ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ezi Magbegor is only 18 and already a world traveler thanks to her basketball abilities. But the Australian standout is about to get her first look at UConn Nation.
Magbegor, a 6-foot-4 forward and star of Australia's youth national teams, will look at potential American college options in the next few weeks. A recruiting source said that she will take an official recruiting visit to the University of Connecticut with the date expected to coincide with the top-ranked Huskies' Senior Night game with South Florida at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 26.
UConn has signed two McDonald's All-Americans from the Class of 2018: Christyn Williams (5-11 guard, Little Rock, Arkansas) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (6-4 forward/center, Winder, Georgia).
Magbegor, a native of Melbourne, Australia, is currently taking part in an Australian senior national team cap being held in Italy at the Australian Institute of Sport European Training Center. The source indicated that after her trip to UConn, she will make an official visit to UCLA though the timing of that is not known. She recently finished her first season with the Canberra Capitals of Australia's Women's National Basketball League and was named its Rookie of the Year after averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 13 minutes per game.
"My main focus was on the WNBL and not to stress over (college recruitment) or what I would do in the second half of the year," Magbegor told The Evening Game of Australia. "It was something I was able to put to the back of my mind."
Magbegor was the top scorer (16.1 points on 53 percent shooting from the floor) and second-leading rebounder (8.1) while averaging team-highs of 2.0 steals and 1.6 blocked shots as Australia finished sixth in the FIBA U-19 World Cup last summer. She had nine points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes before fouling out in a quarterfinal loss to eventual gold medalist Russia.
In 2016, she was the Most Valuable Player as she led Australia to the gold medal at the FIBA U-17 world championships by averaging 12.5 points on 55 percent shooting from the floor, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.9 blocked shots. Magbegor had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in the semifinal win over Team USA, and 13 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots in the gold-medal victory over Italy.
She turns 19 on Aug. 13. Her brother, Ovie, is playing in the United States and is a freshman forward at Division II University of West Georgia.
GABBY'S HIGHS AND LOWS
Gabby Williams had just one basket -- a short first-quarter bank shot -- in UConn's 55-37 American Athletic Conference win over Central Florida Wednesday night. But with six rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and a blocked shot in her 32 minutes of action, the senior All-American made a difference.
"I'm looking at the positives and negatives from this," Williams said. "My shot wasn't falling so I had to find other ways to impact the game and I think I did. There was still a lot more that I could have done to help but that's part of basketball."
The Sparks, Nevada, native moved past Kerry Bascom for ninth on UConn's all-time rebounding list with 918 and moved past Debbie Baer for seventh on UConn's all-time with 277 steals.
She also picked up her first career technical foul with 7:02 left in the third quarter following a scramble with three UCF players for a loose ball and a comment picked up on by referee Ed Sidlasky.
Williams did get the loudest roar from the pro-UConn crowd as she stole an inbounds pass by Jamesha Paul with 1.2 seconds left in the third quarter, took one dribble, and found nothing but net from 65 feet away. But the bucket was waved off by referee Denise Brooks and the call was confirmed by replay.
"Gabby does have a range," UConn All-American Napheesa Collier said with a smile. "You'd better not be sleeping on her."
It would have been Williams' second career 3-point basket in 12 attempts. Her only trey came at Florida State on Nov. 14, 2016.
DANGERFIELD STAYS SEATED
UConn was able to put 106 points against Cincinnati last Sunday with Crystal Dangerfield sitting out due to shin splints in her left leg. It was not as fortunate against UCF Wednesday night with the sophomore point guard sidelined again.
The Huskies' point total was 36 below their average, 20 below their previous season low of 75 set Jan. 15 against Texas, and their lowest total since scoring 49 in a 15-point win over Rutgers seven years ago.
"Without Crystal we're just not the same offensive team," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Kia Nurse's got to do way too much. We're one less guard so we couldn't get those guys the kind of breather we needed to give them. We got a little bit tired."
Nurse, the nation's leading 3-point shooter, missed all three of her shots from behind the arc Wednesday night and managed just three free throws until she came out for the first and only time with 1:43 left. It was the first time she did not make a trey since the opener against Stanford. All-American Katie Lou Samuelson, who is dealing with a left ankle issue, did not come out until 2:12 remained though she finished with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Freshman Megan Walker, who did not play in the second half against Cincinnati, played 25 minutes against the Knights and had five points and six rebounds.
Dangerfield will be evaluated again before the Huskies practice Friday. The Huskies open a season high three-game homestand Saturday when they face Wichita State at the XL Center in Hartford. Then Monday, No. 4 Louisville comes to Gampel Pavilion.
"We're hoping that she can go Saturday," Auriemma said. "We were hoping it would be 10 days (off), so Saturday would be about 10 days. We'll take a look Friday and hopefully she can do some things in practice, then play Saturday, then I don't know about Sunday, and we'll see about Monday."
ESPINOZA-HUNTER DECIDES ON MSU
After stating her intention on Twitter to continue her career at Mississippi State Tuesdaynight, former UConn guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter transfer to the Southeastern Conference school was announced by the program Wednesday.
"I decided to come to Mississippi State because of the close-knit family environment with the coaches, players, fans and everyone else I encountered while I was there," Espinoza-Hunter said in a statement. "Seeing how the fans support the coaches and the team solidified that this was the place that I want to be. Being a Bulldog isn't just a four-year commitment like most institutions, it's a lifetime commitment."
The Ossining, New York, native averaged 2.0 points over 7.0 minutes in seven games for the Huskies, with her final appearance being Dec. 22 against Duquesne. Espinoza-Hunter had a list of six schools and Mississippi State was her first visit. She attended the Bulldogs' win over South Carolina Monday night.
"I'm happy for her and I hope it's a good match for her," Williams said.
While it's been a foregone conclusion for awhile, UConn clinched a first-round bye as a top-four seed in the AAC Tournament with Wednesday night's win. The Huskies will begin their bid for a fifth consecutive tournament title with a quarterfinal game on March 4 at Mohegan Sun Arena ... Attendance was announced at a UCF-record 6,155. After the final buzzer, UCF coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson grabbed the microphone at the scorer's table and thanked the Knights' fans for coming out and invited the UConn fans to return to CFE Arena for a UCF game in the future ... UConn's meeting with Wichita State Saturday will be its first with the AAC newcomer. The Huskies have not lost to a first-time opponent since falling to Georgia on Jan. 15, 1996. The Shockers (10-15, 5-6) lost at home to Cincinnati Wednesday night.
UConn ran its winning streak against unranked opponents to 151 Wednesday night. For those not impressed by that number, ask the last two teams to play the St. John's men -- then-No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Villanova -- what they think. Heading into the Duke game, the Red Storm were 10-13. Heading into the game with Villanova, they were 0-11 in the Big East.
"It can happen to anyone on any given night and we've seen it happen so many times," Williams said. "Everyone thinks that it's not going to happen to them and that's when they become the most vulnerable. We have to be on our toes all the time. We've got used to knowing that everyone will come at us with their best game when they play us, no matter if they think they're going to win or not. They think, 'We're going to make our mark and that UConn will remember us.' We know that and we expect that and that's why we're able to avoid it."