STORRS, Conn. -- Kara Wolters was 6-foot-7 and came from a basketball family.
But when University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma made the one-hour drive to Holliston, Massachusetts, to watch Wolters play, he wasn't sure she had what it took to help the Huskies continue their surge onto the national scene.
"I remember thinking, 'I don't know if this ever going to work. I can't see this working, I know that the other coaches like her but I can't see this working,'" Auriemma said. "I remember watching her in the summer and thinking, 'This is going to take a lot of work if this is going to work.' I remember her first week stepping on campus saying to her, 'I don't think this is going to work.' She really hadn't come to grips with what it was going to take.
"But you know what? It didn't take long. Once she did get it, she worked, and worked, and worked and made herself into the player she became through her competitiveness and force of will. No one can ever take that away from her."
On Sunday the 1997 UConn graduate and current SNY studio analyst was given an honor that will last forever.
Wolters has been selected for induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced Sunday from the Hall's home in Knoxville, Tennessee. The six-member Class of 2017 will be enshrined in a ceremony set for June 10.
"Obviously, I'm just so happy for Kara," said SNY game analyst Meghan Culmo, who was an assistant coach at UConn during Wolters' freshman and sophomore seasons following her own playing career with the Huskies. "It's a well-deserved honor for someone who was transformational here the way she played the game and what she did for this program. There's never been anyone like her at that size with the hands she had. We always joked she was 'The Black Hole'; once the ball went in, it never came out. But you know what? She scored a ton. She had great hands. She knew her role.
"I love her to death and she's a good friend of mine. It's nice to see good things happen to your friends."
Wolters -- whose father, Willie, was a star at Boston College -- played at UConn from 1993-97. Twenty years after graduating, she still ranks eighth in points (2,141), second in field-goal percentage (62.8), eighth in rebounds (927), and third in blocked shots (137) at UConn.
She became the first player with the Huskies to be named to a postseason all-tournament team in all four of her seasons and was twice (1995-96) named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big East tournament. In 1997, Wolters was named the Big East and the Associated Press national Player of the Year. She was also selected to the WBCA All-America team and was part of the first class inducted into the Huskies of Honor in 2006.
UConn compiled a 132-8 record in Wolters' four seasons and won four Big East regular season and tournament titles, advanced to the Final Four twice, and finished off a 35-0 season with a 70-64 win over Tennessee in the National Championship Game.
She will be the third player from that team inducted into the Hall, joining Rebecca Lobo (2010) and Jennifer Rizzotti (2013). Auriemma was inducted in 2006.
"All three of them were Player of the Year winners and Kara was maybe the most dominant player in college basketball," Auriemma said. "It's no surprise to me whatsoever. Thinking of where she came from, where she was as a senior in high school, and then today to get the highest honor that a basketball player can get, it's a remarkable story.
"Everyone knew Rebecca would be a great player coming out of high school. People weren't lining up from here to Chicago to recruit Kara and Jennifer, though. Great players come in all shapes and sizes. We've got a 5'5" kid and a 6'8" kid. That team was such a special team because of the way it came together. We did have two high school All-Americans -- Rebecca and Nykesha Sales -- that everyone knew would be special. But the careers Jamelle Elliott had, Carla Berube had, it was a storybook ending."
In Saturday's 83-41 win over SMU at Gampel Pavilion, the top seven players in Auriemma's rotation came from New York (Saniya Chong), Canada (Kia Nurse), Nevada (Gabby Williams), Missouri (Napheesa Collier), California (Katie Lou Samuelson), Virginia (Natalie Butler), and Tennessee (Crystal Dangerfield).
The seven players that saw action at the Target Center in Minneapolis on April 2, 1995, were from Massachusetts (Lobo, Wolters, and Berube), Connecticut (Rizzotti and Sales), Pennsylvania (Pam Webber), and the District of Columbia (Elliott).
Wolters is also one of 10 women's basketball players in history to win an NCAA national championship, a WNBA title, and gold medals from the Olympics and FIBA world championships. The others are former Huskies Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, Maya Moore, and Diana Taurasi, along with Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Brittney Griner, and Sheryl Swoopes.
After receiving her degree, Wolters began her professional career with the American Basketball League's New England Blizzard. After the ABL folded, she joined the WNBA's Houston Comets and won a championship there under coach Van Chancellor. She would go on to play for Indiana and Sacramento before wrapping up her career in 2003.
On the international stage, she was named to the 1994 United States national team as a 19-year-old. She would win gold with Team USA at the 1998 FIBA world championships and 2000 Olympics.
But she'll be best remembered for her time here and for her contribution to the Huskies' first national championship team.
"Geno's always said when you have great players, winning is a lot easier," Culmo said. "Championships come when you have great players. This is a great moment for Kara, but also proof that the individual stuff follows when you're a part of great teams."
Joining Wolters in the WBHOF Class of 2017 are former Texas Tech and WNBA star Swoopes, Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell, referee Sally Bell, founding member of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Christine Grant, and former Southern Connecticut State coach Louise O'Neal.