A rookie of the year, a few coaches and a missionary: UConn's 2020 graduates all on different paths since leaving Storrs
After a short stint overseas, Kyla Irwin joined Shea Ralph’s staff at Vanderbilt.
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UConn commits Azzi Fudd and Amari DeBerry (class of 2021) and Ayanna Patterson (2022) were invited to USA Basketball’s U19 World Cup Trials in Denver, which will be held from May 14-16.
UConn’s 2020 graduates all on unique paths since leaving Storrs
On Tuesday, Vanderbilt announced some additional members of Shea Ralph’s coaching staff which included another former Husky: Kyla Irwin, who will be the Commodores’ Director of Player Development & Community Relations.
“Kyla is the type of person who impacts you the moment you meet her,” Ralph said in a release. “Her energizing presence and her knowledge of what is needed to compete and win at the highest level is exactly what our program needs. We are very lucky to have her working with our student-athletes every day.”
Irwin signed with USC Heidelberg in Germany this past winter but only appeared in four games. With Irwin stepping into a coaching/administrative role at Vanderbilt, it’s remarkable how many different and unique paths UConn’s five 2020 graduates have taken since departing Storrs last year.
Dangerfield was the Huskies’ only player to reach the WNBA as a second round pick (16th overall) by the Minnesota Lynx — though she was projected to be a first round pick. The diminutive point guard quickly set out to prove her doubters wrong. Dangerfield only scored nine points in her first game but scored double-figures the rest of the way and led the Lynx with 16.2 points and 3.6 assists per game. She went on to become the only non-first rounder to be named WNBA Rookie of the Year and will look to build on that success in her second season.
Since graduating, Camara released a children’s book, has been honored with the 2020 Billie Jean Youth Leadership Award — which goes to high school and college aged-students who use the power of sports to better their communities — was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 sports list and began both her professional basketball and coaching career.
Camara has her own nonprofit — Women and Kids’ Empowerment, or WAKE — with the goal of creating opportunities for young girls around the globe to get an education and play basketball. She also hopes to build an all-girls school in Guinea — her family’s ancestral home.
On the court, Camara played for CB Bembibre this past winter, averaging 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds while playing in 29 games. More recently, she was named the head coach of the girls’ basketball team at Blair Academy in New York, her alma mater.
After her UConn career ended, Bent decided not to pursue a professional basketball career. Instead, she found her calling with FOCUS — a non-profit organization which sends Catholic missionaries to various colleges and universities around the country. Bent connected with their UConn representative during her early days in Storrs and eventually decided to give it a try herself. She’s currently assigned to University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she works with some of the school’s athletes to provide guidance and support.
“It was absolutely the best choice to go (to UConn), without hesitation. Where I am right now as a missionary with FOCUS – I would not be where I am today had I not gone to UConn,” Bent told the Barnstable Patriot in December. “I am in such a joyful place right now, and I absolutely love what I am doing.”
Adebayo was most recently with Vega Lagunera Adareva in the Spanish second division, though she only played in five games there. Whenever her professional career eventually comes to an end, Adebayo has an eye on coaching after watching Geno Auriemma and his staff operate for a year.
“I was interested in coaching beforehand because I’ve been around the game for so long and I want to stay in it even after I’m done playing,” Adebayo said in Feb. 2020. “[The coaches] impact our lives every day. Just to see them do that, that’s something I want to do for the next generation of kids growing up too. Pass it on.”
Adebayo was set to participate in the WBCA’s “So You Think You Can Coach?” Class during the Final Four before the onset of the pandemic got into those plans. Either way, she’ll be well prepared to enter the field whenever that day comes.
“She’s very inquisitive, she’s very curious, she’s always asking me things about coaching,” Auriemma said during the 2019-20 campaign. “I think they go to those things and they get to find out ‘Hey, if you think coaching is just going to practice and going ‘Do this.’’ It’s a lot more involved than that and she’s very curious. I’ll be anxious to see what she gets back what she learned from that.”
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