Even as her coaching journey took her to Seattle and Chicago, Jasmine Lister never lost appreciation for the time she spent as a graduate assistant in Storrs on Geno Auriemma's staff with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
"I see them a lot, but I still want to tell them, 'Thank you,' " Lister said last December. "They've done a lot for me. They taught me a lot about basketball and a lot about myself as a person. They took someone in from another program, someone they didn't know, and treated me like one of their own. And even though I've been gone for a year they are still looking out for me and still make me feel like I'm a part of it."
Soon she just won't feel like a part of it, she will be a part of it. The 25-year-old Lister will be named an assistant at UConn to replace Marisa Moseley, who was introduced as the head coach at Boston University on Wednesday. An official announcement from the school could come as early as Thursday.
Lister, a native of Corona, California, played collegiately at Vanderbilt (2010-14) and was a three-time all-SEC performer while starting all 129 games of her career -- including a 2013 NCAA tournament second-round loss to UConn at Gampel Pavilion. She came to UConn in 2014 as a graduate assistant and in her two seasons on the staff, the Huskies went 76-1 and won the last two of their record four consecutive national championships. One of those wins was over her alma mater at the 2014 Gulf Coast Showcase.
During the summer of 2015, she played in seven games for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. In February 2016, she took part in a United States national team training camp at the Werth Champions Center, playing for the scout team against the best in the world competing for spots on the Olympic team.
After receiving her Masters Degree in sports management from UConn in 2016, she became an assistant to coach Mike Neighbors at Washington. Lister helped Washington to a 29-6 record and a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16 while working with Kelsey Plum, who became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer as a senior and the top pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft.
"As an addition to our staff she just brought a new energy," Plum said after accepting the 2017 Associated Press Player of the Year award in Dallas. "She works extremely hard and I don't know people know that about her. She is a young, bright mind in this game. Her future is going to be special."
Neighbors left for Arkansas and Lister found her way to Chicago to become an assistant to DePaul's Doug Bruno. In her one season there, the Blue Demons finished 27-8 -- including a December loss to UConn -- and shared the Big East regular season title while winning the league tournament crown. Their year ended with a heartbreaking 80-79 second-round loss at Texas A&M on Chennedy Carter's 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left. DePaul led by 15 in the fourth quarter and for all but 1:24.
Moseley's departure for her first head coaching job at her alma mater and Lister's hire marks the first change on Auriemma's staff since 2009 when Moseley replaced Jamelle Elliott, who left to become head coach at Cincinnati. Lister is expected to work primarily with the guards at UConn.
COLLIER KEEPING BUSY
Three weeks after her junior season at UConn ended, Napheesa Collier is getting back on the basketball court.
Collier will play in the 2018 USA Basketball women's 3x3 national championships being held Saturday and Sunday at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. She will then head to Seattle to take part in a USA senior national team camp running Tuesday through Thursday.
In Colorado, Collier will team with Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale, Louisville guard Asia Durr, and California-Berkeley forward Kristine Anigwe. Collier and Ogunbowale were teammates -- along with UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson and former Huskies' recruit De'Janae Boykin -- on the USA squad that won the gold medal in the 3x3 competition at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Former UConn guard Courtney Ekmark, now at Arizona State, will take part in the tournament with three of her Sun Devils' teammates.
Collier was named to the all-American Athletic Conference first team as she finished in the top 15 in the league in eight statistical categories: scoring (ninth at 16.1), field-goal percentage (fifth at 58.3), free-throw percentage (eighth at 78.6), rebounding (tied for seventh at 7.4), assists (15th at 3.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth at 2.2), steals (14th at 1.6), and blocked shots (third at 1.7). The St. Charles, Missouri, resident was selected to the NCAA all-Final Four team after scoring 24 points in the Huskies' semifinal overtime loss against Notre Dame at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The winning team at this weekend's event may have an opportunity to represent the United States at the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup to be held June 8-12 in Manila, Philippines.
Nineteen national team pool players, including Collier, are expected in Seattle to take part in the three-day camp will culminate with an exhibition contest against the Chinese national team at KeyArena. The final USA roster for the exhibition will be announced on Wednesday.
Former UConn stars expected at the camp are WNBA players Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury, Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky, Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, and Morgan Tuck of the Connecticut Sun.
Samuelson is also part of the national team pool but will not attend the camp after having surgery on her left ankle a week ago.
Other professionals expected to attend are Layshia Clarendon, Brittney Sykes, and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream), Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Skylar Diggins-Smith and Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), and Sydney Wiese (Los Angeles Sparks).
"I'm excited to have this group of players joining us in camp in a couple of weeks," Team USA coach Dawn Staley of the University of South Carolina said. "I look forward to working with them and gaining some more chemistry with both players and staff, now that we have a staff in place. We can get a lot more done and really focus on in-game situations, especially with the exhibition against China at the end of camp."
The Seattle training camp will mark the third in the USA's preparations for the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which will be held Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.