On Dec. 30, 2014, Andra Espinoza-Hunter made her verbal commitment to play basketball at the University of Connecticut. Then midway through her sophomore year at Blair Academy in New Jersey, she became the youngest player to commit to the Huskies.
But after waiting more than two years to get to Storrs, her stay lasted just one semester. UConn announced Friday that Espinoza-Hunter has decided to transfer.
"I have enjoyed getting to know Andy and her family," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. "Everyone at UConn wishes Andy all the best as she continues her college career elsewhere."
A native of Ossining, New York, Espinoza-Hunter was a teammate of former UConn guard Saniya Chong as a seventh and eighth grader at Ossining High. When Chong moved on to UConn, Espinoza-Hunter transferred to Blair Academy and helped it to three league and three state prep championships in three seasons. At Blair, she was a teammate of Huskies' redshirt sophomore Batouly Camara.
Espinoza-Hunter then returned to Ossining High for the start of her senior year to be closer to her family. In her final season with the Pride she averaged 36.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 3.0 steals, and was named New York' Gatorade Player of the Year.
In 2015, Espinoza-Hunter was a member of the United States U-16 national team and averaged 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds as Team USA went 4-1 and won a bronze medal at the FIBA Americas U-16 Championship. She also attended the trials for the 2016 U-17 United States national team.
She played in seven games for the Huskies prior to Christmas and averaged 2.0 points in 7.0 minutes per game. She had six points in a win over Maryland at the XL Center in Hartford on Nov. 19 and eight points in a win over Michigan State at the PK80 Nike Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, on Nov. 25. In her final game, she played nine minutes and did not score against Duquesne on Dec. 22.
When UConn returned from its Christmas break, she was at practice. But when the Huskies faced Memphis on Dec. 31, she was not at the game due to what Auriemma said were personal issues. She never returned.
Spring semester classes at UConn start Tuesday.
HUSKIES HEAD TO HOUSTON
The top-ranked Huskies start a two-game road trip in Texas Saturday when they take on Houston in an American Athletic Conference contest HP&E Arena on the campus of Texas Southern University (SNY, 3 p.m.).
UConn (14-0 overall, 4-0 AAC) arrived in Houston Friday. After playing the Cougars, the Huskies head to Austin for Monday's nationally televised Martin Luther King Jr. Day showdown with No. 7 Texas.
Houston (14-4, 3-1) is coming off a home loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday. The Cougars have shown the ability to put points on the board and are third in the AAC in scoring offense (77.3). But while they are No. 1 in the league in steals, they are last in scoring defense (70.3). The teams have no common opponents, though former UConn center Natalie Butler - now at George Mason - had 35 points and 19 rebounds in a loss to Houston on Dec. 21. Sophomore guard Jasmyne Harris is the top scorer for the Cougars at 20.3 points per game.
"I think they've established a certain culture of playing hard," Auriemma said. "They remind me of Central Florida except they shoot threes. They are tough. They are aggressive. They get after you. But they jack up threes. Any time you do that, you're going to have nights where a bunch of them go in."
It is the Huskies' first game at HP&E Arena as Houston's Fertitta Center is undergoing renovations.