UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Christyn Williams won't play her first game for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team for four more months, but there's no doubt she is part of the Huskies' family.
The 5-foot-11 freshman guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, raised some eyebrows a month ago at coach Geno Auriemma's charity golf tournament when she predicted that UConn would win the 2019 national championship. The Huskies have seen their last two bids for a 12th NCAA title end in overtime of the Final Four semifinals.
"I was hurt. It was devastating," Williams said. "But we're going to get it back. Mark my words, guys, we're going to get it back. We're going to get that championship. People are going to feel UConn. We're going to win the national championship."
Five former Huskies -- all All-Americans and multiple national champions in their time in Storrs -- had Williams' back when asked what they thought of the prediction during their stops at Mohegan Sun Arena in July.
They loved her attitude.
"This is a confident player and I think she knows what she wants," Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart said. "Coming into UConn that's what you need -- those kind of visions, those kind of goals. She has the rest of the summer and the preseason to prepare herself to go after it. Coach Auriemma will do his best to make sure that she lives up to it."
Of course, it was Stewart -- who, when she committed to UConn in January of 2011 -- told Auriemma that she wanted to win four national championships. The Huskies reached that goal and the North Syracuse, New York, native became a three-time national Player of the Year and the first four-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player in the unprecedented run.
Connecticut Sun forward Morgan Tuck was an All-American as she, Stewart, and Moriah Jefferson became NCAA women's basketball's first and only four-time champions. It was what she wanted when she came to UConn from Bolingbrook, Illinois. She -- unlike Stewart -- kept it quiet. But she liked what she was hearing from Williams.
"You should have that expectation," Tuck said. "Anyone that goes to UConn is expecting to win a championship. For her to say it, I think it's just putting it out there and I hope she and they can do it.
"I don't see it as a prediction but more of what her goal is. I don't see anything wrong with that. That is what she went to UConn for, I know that for sure. It's good for her to have that expectation."
For Seattle guard and Syosset, New York, native Sue Bird, the 2002 national Player of the Year and two-time national champion under Auriemma, expectations is the key word.
"UConn is its own little monster," Bird said. "That's the expectation and they've made it look easy. Eleven national championships can make it look easier than it is.
"Unfortunately for her freshman class," Bird added with a laugh, "she's going to find out how hard it is really quick."
The Huskies have lost three times in their last 197 games and haven't lost a game in regulation time since the 2013 Big East tournament final.
They return three starters from last season's 36-1 club. The additions are Williams and fellow high school All-American and Team USA U-18 member Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
New York Liberty guard Bria Hartley was at UConn the last time the Huskies went back-to-back years losing in the Final Four. The two-time All-American from North Babylon, New York, would get over the top as a junior and senior.
"The goal is always a national championship at UConn," Hartley said. "I don't see any problem with saying that."
Williams averaged 26.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in leading Central Arkansas Christian to the Class 4A state championship. She finished with 3,500 points and 1,261 rebounds.
With Williams' arrival, the Huskies will have three consensus high school Player of the Year winners on their roster with also Katie Lou Samuelson (2015) and Megan Walker (2017).
Eighteen years ago, a player from Chino, California, came across country with the same determination that Williams has.
"I think she's a bold and confident young lady," said Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, a three-time national champion and two-time Player of the Year. "But why not? That's the reason you go to UConn -- to win championships. Whether she says it or not, that's the expectation."
Williams will play her first regular season game for UConn on Nov. 11 when it hosts Ohio State. The Huskies' non-league schedule includes road games against 2018 national championship Notre Dame, 2018 Final Four participant Louisville, and Baylor -- all expected to be in the Top 5 when the preseason polls are released.
The 2019 Final Four will be held April 5 and 7 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, where UConn won the 2015 title.
The Huskies and Williams expect to be there. But as Tuck agreed, what is she supposed to say: We're hoping to get to the Sweet 16 and finish in the top three in the conference?
"You don't want to put your goals short," Tuck said. "It's good to say it, but I hope Christyn puts the work in and understands what it's going to take. If she doesn't, she'll learn quickly."
USA U-17s GO TO 3-0
UConn Class of 2019 recruiting target Jordan Horston had 18 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and five steals as Team USA clinched the No. 1 seed out of Group B pool play Tuesday with a 107-50 win over China at the FIBA U-17 World Cup in Minsk, Belarus.
Fellow 2019 recruiting targets Haley Jones and Aliyah Boston added 14 and 10 points for the Americans (3-0), who scored the first 14 points and never looked back.
Team USA also owns victories over Italy (86-48) and Mali (92-39). Jones is the team's top scorer at 12.0 points per game followed by Class of 2021 standout Azzi Fudd (10.7). Boston (6.7) and Horston (6.3) are the top rebounds while Horston (5.3) and 2020 recruiting target Paige Bueckers (3.7) lead in assists.
All 16 teams competing in the tournament were seeded and advance out of pool play. Team USA will take on Colombia (0-3) Wednesday for a berth in the quarterfinals.