The University of Connecticut women's basketball team will play homecoming games for seniors Gabby Williams (at Nevada) and Kia Nurse (in Toronto vs. Duquesne) and junior Katie Lou Samuelson (at UCLA) this coming season.
Junior Napheesa Collier will be taking notes.
"The thing that I've already picked up on is how they have been asking everyone for tickets for those games," Collier said. "So I'm going to be sure to get a head start on that for next year."
The St. Charles, Missouri, native will have a homecoming of her own next year as UConn has signed a contract to play at Saint Louis University during the 2018-19 season. The deal is for just one game.
It will be the first meeting between the Huskies and the Billikens of the Atlantic-10 Conference.
"It means a lot to me that the coaches would do this for me, and it means a lot to my family," Collier said. "Because I go to school so far away from home, they don't get to come to any games unless they make a big road trip. This will be one time they won't have to travel far and I'm happy my friends and family will get to see me play."
Collier graduated from Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis in 2015, earning consensus All-American honors there and leading it to three state championships in three years.
She was named to the all-American Athletic Conference freshman team in 2016, helping UConn to the national championship. She had hip surgery in the offseason and rebounded with a breakout sophomore year, leading the AAC in scoring (20.4), field-goal percentage (67.8) and blocks (2.1), while also ranking third in rebounds. She was the AAC Co-Player of the Year with Samuelson and a consensus first-team All-American. She joined UConn's 1,000-point club and was named the NCAA Bridgeport Regional Most Outstanding Player.
Collier has also captured three gold medals playing for USA Basketball (2015 FIBA U-19 world championship, 2014 FIBA Americas U-18 championship, 2014 Youth Olympic Games) and was a member of the all-tournament team at the U-19 world championships two years ago. She is attending her first senior national team camp in California this weekend.
"I hope the people that will come to the game will see that I've grown and I've tried to make my city proud," Collier said. "It's something that I'm really looking forward to next year."
UConn has played in two Final Fours in St. Louis - losing to Notre Dame in the semifinals in 2001, and beating Stanford and Louisville in 2009 en route to a 39-0 national championship season.
Saint Louis, coached by Lisa Stone, finished 25-9 a season ago. The Billikens received a WNIT berth after losing to Dayton in the A-10 tournament semifinals. They opened WNIT play with a win over IUPUI but saw their season ended with a loss to Indiana.
The Huskies' 2018-19 non-league schedule is not complete, but they do have contracts to play Baylor, California, Louisville, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Seton Hall, and South Carolina along with Saint Louis. They are also scheduled to participate in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
UConn graduates Tina Charles (New York Liberty) and Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) were named to the all-WNBA first team while fellow former Huskies' star Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) was a second-team selection.
League Most Valuable Player Sylvia Fowles of the Lynx was a unanimous first-team pick and received 195 points. Charles' point total of 166 was second. Rounding out the first team were Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), and Moore.
The second-team was made up of Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles), Jonquel Jones (Connecticut Sun), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles), Brittney Griner (Phoenix) and Taurasi.
Charles has been an all-WNBA pick in each of her eight seasons since being drafted No. 1 by the Sun in 2010. It is her fifth first-team selection. The New York native was third in the league in scoring (19.7) and fourth in rebounding (9.4) and finished second to Fowles in the MVP voting. Charles was also named to the all-defensive first team.
Moore, the No. 1 pick of the 2011 draft by Minnesota, was chosen to the first team for the fifth consecutive season. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native averaged of 17.3 points, five rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals in helping the Lynx to the WNBA's best regular-season record. She was also named to the all-defensive second team.
Taurasi averaged 17.9 points per game in helping the Mercury advance to the WNBA semifinals. The Chino, California, native and No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft broke the WNBA career records for points and 3-pointers made this summer.
Another UConn graduate, Sue Bird, was named the recipient of the 2017 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, which is presented each season to a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. The award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August 1999 after a seven-month battle with cancer.
Bird, who has played her entire WNBA career with the Seattle Storm after being the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, became the league's all-time leader in assists (2,610) this summer and was chosen to play in the All-Star Game for a record-tying 10th time. The Syosset, New York, native averaged a career-high 6.6 assists to go with 10.6 points this season.