The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is losing Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse to graduation and to the WNBA.
The Huskies appear to be looking at a pair potential graduate transfers from Texas A&M as immediate replacements.
Forward Anriel Howard, the Aggies' leading rebounder this past season, and guard Danni Williams, their second-leading scorer, are planning on visiting the Storrs campus this weekend, according to a pair of sources. The New Haven Register's Jim Fuller confirmed Howard's trip and added she has already visited Florida State and will tentatively travel to Mississippi State, Tennessee and a fifth school to be determined.
Both Howard and Williams are in line to receive their degrees from Texas A&M in three years and would be immediately eligible as graduate transfers for their final season. UConn has not had a graduate transfer.
Texas A&M finished 2017-18 season with a 26-10 record, losing to Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals and to eventual national champion Notre Dame in the NCAA Spokane (Washington) Regional semifinals. The Aggies led the Irish at halftime and were within three with 1:40 left before Notre Dame pulled out a 90-84 win. Howard finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Williams had six points and four assists.
Howard, a 5-foot-11 Atlanta native, started all 36 games as a junior and averaged 12.1 points on 44.2 percent shooting from the floor and 12.2 rebounds, which ranked second in the SEC to Mississippi State All-American Teaira McCowan. It was the second straight season she averaged a double-double. In the Notre Dame loss, she became the first Texas A&M player to reach 1,000 career rebounds (1,002). The telecommunications media studies major was named her team's MVP and won the Aggies' Miss Hustle Award for the third consecutive year. Howard, who ran one year of track at Texas A&M, has aspirations of being a sports broadcaster.
Williams, a 5-foot-10 native of Clovis, New Mexico, also started all 36 games as a junior and led the SEC and ranked seventh nationally in minutes played (36.4 per game). She averaged 14.4 points, shooting 41.5 percent from the floor, 38.6 percent from 3-point land, and 84.1 percent from the foul line. She became the 30th Texas A&M player with 1,000 career points and earned the team's prestigious Miss Aggie Award, which recognizes an outstanding member of the squad for contributions both on and off the court. A sport management major, Williams was her class valedictorian at Clovis High School.
UConn had three players taken in the first round of Thursday night's WNBA Draft with Gabby Williams being a lottery pick -- No. 4 overall -- by the Chicago Sky. Azura Stevens was taken at No. 6 by the Dallas Wings, while Nurse was the 10th overall selection by the New York Liberty.
The Huskies will return three starters -- Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield -- from their 36-1 club that fell in the NCAA semifinals in overtime to Notre Dame. UConn will welcome two 2018 McDonald's High School All-Americans to the fold: consensus national Player of the Year Christyn Williams (5-foot-11 guard, Little Rock, Arkansas) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (6-foot-4 forward, Winder, Georgia).
Samuelson always wanted to be like her oldest sister, Bonnie. Now she is.
The two-time junior All-American had surgery on her left ankle Thursday. An announcement from the school said she is expected to be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season.
Thursday's surgery repaired shredded lateral ligaments and she also had a torn tendon in the ankle. There was no bone or cartilage damage found.
Four years ago, Bonnie Samuelson had surgery on her ankle prior to her senior year at Stanford and returned in time to help the Cardinal upset the Huskies on Nov. 17, 2014.
Katie Lou has had issues with her left ankle since injuring it on the final night of the United States U-17 national team trials in Colorado Springs in 2014. She made the squad and played through the injury to help the Americans to a gold medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships.
The Huntington Beach, California, native missed four November contests this past season -- including her homecoming game at UCLA -- with a left foot sprain. She hurt the ankle in her first game back against Notre Dame on Dec. 3 and aggravated the injury on Jan. 18 versus Tulsa. She missed the game at Temple three days later and played the rest of the season with a brace on the ankle.
In 32 games, Samuelson averaged 17.4 points and a career-high 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. She was the only American Athletic Conference player to rank in the top 10 in field-goal percentage (53.0), 3-point percentage (a nation's best 47.5) and free-throw percentage (83.5).
She was named the AAC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American for the second straight season. She was also chosen to the AAC and NCAA Albany Regional all-tournament teams.
USA Basketball announced this week that 35 players -- including all 12 members of the 2017 U-16 national team that won gold at the FIBA Americas Championships -- have accepted invitations to take part in the U-17 national team trials May 23-27. Leading the way is Class of 2019 UConn recruiting target Aliyah Boston, who was MVP of the U-16 event, from Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. A list of applicant candidates who will pay their own way to trials, will be announced later this month. The U-17 team will be coached by former UConn star and 1997 graduate Carla Berube, now the head coach at Tufts University. ... Former UConn center Natalie Butler, who used her final year of eligibility as a graduate transfer at George Mason University, was taken in the third round of Thursday night's WNBA Draft by Dallas, the first player from Mason to be drafted. "It is incredibly satisfying to know all your hard work paid off," Butler said in a story on the school's website. "The fact I was able to get drafted was awesome and humbling. I'm incredibly grateful the Dallas Wings want me to be a part of their training camp." ... The date for UConn forward Collier's homecoming game next season at Saint Louis University's Chaifetz Arena is Dec. 4, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The game is expected to be part of a two-game trip to the Midwest for the Huskies that will include their matchup with Notre Dame in South Bend.