Recruiting: Looking at potential UConn targets in the class of 2022

The Huskies already have two top-five prospects committed. Could they add anyone else?

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With the 2020-21 season over and the 2021 class ready to come in as a freshman, the 2022 class is set to take center stage on the recruiting trail.

Most prospects typically make their college decision in the summer and fall of their senior year — only 20 of ESPN’s top 60 players have committed so far. UConn has already landed two top-five players: Ayanna Patterson (No. 3 overall) and Isuneh Brady (No. 5).

Patterson is an athletic 6-foot-2 wing out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has a solid mid-range game on offense but is at her best defensively and on the glass. ESPN’s scouting report says Patterson has “off the charts potential”.

As for Brady, she’s a 6-foot-3 post player that isn’t afraid to put the ball on the floor or step out to take three-pointers. Recently, she had a strong weekend at the Boo Williams U17 Tournament just a few weekends ago.

As it currently stands, UConn has two scholarships remaining for the 2022-23 season, though that could change if Dorka Juhász decides to forgo her fifth year of eligibility or if someone decides to transfer. Either way, this won’t be a big class like the Huskies’ 2020 or 2021 groups.

Since the Huskies already have two top players locked up and don’t have much space left on their roster, they likely won’t be heavily involved with the remaining prospects this summer.

UConn’s roster is also well-balanced without any holes in the near future, so the Huskies don’t need to fill any needs. They can just land talented players that fit their system or even bring in a project like Piath Gabriel, for example.

That depth could also work against UConn on the recruiting trail, too. With so much talent — especially in the backcourt — there will almost certainly be more playing time available at other schools.

Either way, these next few months should bring plenty of movement on the recruiting front across the country.

Reported UConn targets

These players have either visited Storrs, reportedly have an offer from UConn, or have the Huskies listed as a finalist. While that’s an imperfect system (some prospects will put schools in a top-five despite not having a committable scholarship offer), it’s better than nothing.

Kiki Rice — 5-foot-11 guard (No. 6 in the class)

A native of Washington, DC, Rice is a versatile guard that is capable of playing on or off the ball, something that UConn always values. Her top 11 is an interesting mix of blue blood programs like UConn and Stanford, some academic choices like Boston College and Yale along with everything in between.

Even with the amount of talent in UConn’s backcourt, the Huskies are set to lose Evina Westbrook and Christyn Williams to graduation after 2021-22 which will leave a fairly sizable void, which Rice could help fill.

KK Bransford — 5-foot-10 guard (No. 27)

Bransford visited Storrs in Feb. 2020 to watch UConn’s take on Oregon and stopped by practice the day before as well. The Huskies made her top 12 back in October, which includes Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas, and UCLA.

ESPN describes Bransford as a “versatile, physical guard” that finishes well at the rim. A member of the USA U16 National Team in 2019, Bransford was once rated as high the No. 9 in ESPN’s 2022 rankings and certainly has plenty of interest from high-level programs. The same things that we said about Rice’s fit also apply to Bransford.

Imani Lester — 6-foot-3 post (not ranked)

While ESPN doesn’t have Lester in its top 60 2022 prospects, it does rate her as the ninth-best post player in the class. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, she had UConn in her top 12 along with Clemson, Duke, Florida, East Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Mississippi State, NC State, UNC, North Carolina A&T, and Wake Forest.

“Most of the schools in my top twelve I had picked because their Zoom calls made me feel like I was there. I would say that all the schools in my top twelve had really good Zoom calls.” Lester told 247Sports’ Mississippi State site. “They all had great head coaches and programs in common. They had a culture around their program that I felt was pretty strong, so that's why I picked the schools I did.”

UConn seems like an outlier on Lester’s list and with how many schools from the Carolinas are prevalent, it seems like she may be leaning towards staying closer to home where she’ll play more.

T’yana Todd — 6-foot guard (not ranked)

Todd, out of Concord, Ontario in Canada, is ranked as the No. 17 player in the class by All Star Girls Report but doesn’t have a profile on ESPN. For whatever it’s worth, ESPN also rated Kia Nurse (No. 33 overall) and Aaliyah Edwards (No. 23), UConn’s last two Canadian players, lower than they should have been.

Regardless, UConn is in her top five along with Georgia, Louisville, Mississippi State and Syracuse. Considering the Huskies are also connected to both Rice and Bransford, they seem to be trying to add a guard to go alongside Brady and Patterson.

Other notable top players

Janiah Barker — 6-foot-2 forward (No. 2 in the class)

Barker has kept her recruitment quiet with no known offers or final list. ESPN describes her as both an “ultra-athletic” and “explosively athletic” player who can play multiple positions and thrives in transition and the midrange game.

But UConn already projected to have Aubrey Griffin, Mir McLean, and Patterson on the roster in 2022-23, Barker could be redundant.

Maya Nnaji — 6-foot-4 forward (No. 7)

Despite being a former teammate of Paige Bueckers at Hopkins High School, Nnaji didn’t have UConn in her top 13 back in October.