WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Napheesa Collier's first three weeks at the University of Connecticut have been a learning experience.
On the basketball court, the 6-foot-1 freshman forward from St. Peters, Missouri, had a good idea what she was getting into with the Huskies. But there's more to college life than basketball.
"It's been great to get to know the girls and they've been awesome," Collier said Monday. "But I miss home, my family, and home cooking. My mom's a much better cook than I am. She was trying to get me to cook before I came here and I didn't. Now I'm mad that I didn't."
Maybe mother does know best.
Collier is doing just fine. The thing she's hungry for is to add to her collection of championships.
"I know that it's going to be really hard and I'm going to work as hard as I can and do my best to help the team," Collier said.
Collier was a consensus high school All-American, a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Missouri as a senior in leading Incarnate Word Academy of St. Louis to a 29-2 record and its third straight state championship. In the Class 4 tournament final she had a double-double by halftime and finished with 30 points on 13-for-16 shooting from the floor and 19 rebounds as IWA rolled to its 28th straight win, 60-27 over MICDS at Mizzou Arena.
For the season, she averaged 26.7 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 4.1 blocked shots. She finished her career (she played her freshman season at Jefferson City High) with 2,808 points on 70.6 percent shooting from the floor, 1,346 rebounds, 367 assists, 469 steals, and 328 blocked shots.
Next week, she along with classmate Katie Lou Samuelson and UConn Class of 2016 commit Crystal Dangerfield will head to Colorado Springs for a training camp for the United States team that will take part in the FIBA U-19 world championships in Chekhov, Russia, July 18-26. Collier won a pair of gold medals last year at the FIBA U-18 Americas Championship and at the Youth Olympic Games 3x3 competition. Her U-19 coach, South Carolina's Dawn Staley, used the word "relentless" to describe the way she plays.
"Napheesa's coach in high school (Dan Rolfes) spent some time coaching in college and he ran it like a small college program, and she competes like really hard every possession," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "She has skills, like when I watch her now in pick-up games or in individuals, and she does things that I didn't even know she could do."
Collier has enjoyed the pick-up games with her teammates. She's also spent a good deal of time working with assistant strength and conditioning coach Amanda Kimball.
Welcome to UConn.
"I'm surprised with how weak my arms on," Collier said with a smile. "We lift weights a lot and I didn't realize that I was so weak.
"Pick-up games have been good and they've given me a chance to see some of the things that I need to work on. It's just so much different than high school. It's hard but I was expecting it to be because this is the top program. Obviously, they're going to go hard in everything they do here. So I was ready for that part."
Collier will keep her uniform No. 24 at UConn that she had in high school as senior Briana Pulido, who wore it last year, will switch her number to 2.
Lister joins WNBA's SparksAs she was handling her duties as a graduate assistant coach last winter, Jasmine Lister also spent time working out with UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph to be ready in case she is given the opportunity to play in the WNBA.
The 2014 Vanderbilt graduate got that chance Tuesday night for the struggling Los Angeles Sparks, who cut Courtney Clements and added the post guard to their roster. She played eight minutes and had four points, four rebounds, and an assist as Los Angeles remained winless by falling 84-80 at the Verizon Center to the Washington Mystics.
Lister, a 5-foot-4 native of Corona, California, started and played in 129 consecutive games for Vanderbilt before receiving her bachelor's degree in women and gender studies last year. She finished ranked No. 1 in school history in minutes played (4,626), third in assists (591), and ninth in points (1,618). She also had 109 steals as Vanderbilt made four straight NCAA tournament appearances. She was a three-time all-Southeastern Conference second-team selection.
After graduating, she signed a free-agent contract with the WNBA's Seattle Storm and had the chance to play alongside former UConn star Sue Bird before being released by the Storm in the preseason. Los Angeles coach Brian Agler was the Seattle coach a year ago and Lister made an impact.
The Sparks will face the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night.