Recruiting: Which recruits did UConn watch at Nike Nationals?
Future Huskies KK Arnold and Qadence Samuels both played at the biggest recruiting event of the summer, but the coaching staff also checked in on a handful of other prospects.
For three days, the biggest recruiting event of the summer played out in Chicago. Nike Nationals pitted the best EYBL teams (one of three AAU circuits along with Under Armour’s GUAA and Adidas’ 3SSB) against each other.
Some of the top coaches in the nation descended on the Windy City — South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, Louisville’s Jeff Walz, Oregon’s Kelly Graves, Texas’ Vic Schaefer, Maryland’s Brenda Frese, UCLA’s Cori Close and Arizona’s Adia Barnes are just a few who were there — to watch all the action.
Geno Auriemma was one of the biggest names not in attendance. Instead, UConn was represented by associate head coach Chris Dailey and graduate assistant KiKi Russell, who was presumably filling in for assistant coach Morgan Valley, who recently became a mother. Dailey left midway through the second day, which meant Russell spent the last day and a half on her own.
The two biggest players related to the Huskies were their 2023 commitments KK Arnold and Qadence Samuels. Arnold, the No. 7 player in the class according to ESPN, had a stellar tournament. She averaged 16.2 points — fifth-most of any player in the 17U bracket — with 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while turning the ball over just eight times across five games. Her team, All Iowa Attack, fell to Swish GBL in the opener but bounced back to win its final four games of the tournament.
Samuels had a tougher go, especially on offense. She finished with just 6.8 points and shot 9-36 (25 percent) from the field and 4-23 (17.4 percent) from three across the four games with live stats, though she did grab 6.0 rebounds per game. Samuels apparently shot the lights out at a tournament earlier in the month, so it’s possible her poor shooting was the result of the increased pressure following her commitment to UConn, fatigue, or both.
Samuels and Takeover won their first two games comfortably but fell to the Fairfax Stars on Monday. However, they bounced back with back-to-back victories in their final games.
Outside of the two commits, UConn kept a close eye on three players in particular.