College Sports

What will the 2019-20 UConn women’s basketball team look like? Here’s an early look at the returning players

Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are headed to the WNBA, leaving many to wonder what exactly the UConn women's basketball team will look like next season.

The senior duo accounted for 1,422 of the Huskies' 3,145 points this season, and they're leaving behind three starters who combined for 1,389 points. With questions looming about who will step into the starting roles left behind by Collier and Samuelson, we take a look at how each returning player performed this year and what to expect from next season. The team will also include at least one freshman, Aubrey Griffin of Ossining, N.Y., who was a McDonald's All-American this season.

Crystal Dangerfield

Crystal Dangerfield will be UConn's lone starting senior next season unless the Huskies add a transfer (who can also crack the starting lineup). The 5-foot-5 point guard set many personal bests her junior season, as well as dishing out the second-most assists in a season in UConn history with 225. She accrued more assists than any other junior in program history, well ahead of Moriah Jefferson, who is second on that list with 191.

In a season where she was expected to do more to make up for the Huskies' lack of experience, Dangerfield increased her scoring average by 3.9 points to 13.4 and grabbed 53 more rebounds than her sophomore year. She was aggressive on defense, leading the team in steals, and routinely scored in double digits.

The junior showed off plenty of no-look and behind-the-back passes, exhibiting strong chemistry with Collier and Samuelson. Next season, she'll be expected to be the vocal leader and will likely continue playing around 40 minutes each game. Chances are the Huskies will call on her even more offensively.

Megan Walker

Megan Walker was easily UConn's most improved player this season. The sophomore forward reached a turning point in her collegiate career, putting in more effort in practice and seeing the results translate on the court.

Walker knew she needed to step up, and she did, averaging 12.1 points and the second-most rebounds on the team with 6.7. She finished the season with 241 rebounds, ninth most by a sophomore at UConn. Walker also shot 39.7 percent from behind the arc – better than any other starter – and set a personal best with 34 points against Tulane.

Next season Walker will need to step up even more, becoming more dominant on the boards and more consistent with finishing around the rim.

Christyn Williams

Christyn Williams had a strong freshman season, averaging 11.7 points and stepping up in high pressure situations. Williams scored a career-high 28 points against Notre Dame in the regular season, and then went on to score double digits in every game of the NCAA Tournament. She finished the season with 443 points – the eighth most of any freshman in UConn history.

Williams dealt with normal freshman struggles and spent a lot of the season learning how to move without the ball. The former No. 1 overall recruit was at her best when she drove to the basket and was also fairly consistent when shooting corner 3s. Her defense has improved, but she'll look to be an even better defender as a sophomore. The Huskies will need her to score more and become a more consistent contributor.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa

Olivia Nelson-Ododa had highs and lows as a freshman, showing both her inexperience and her potential. The 6-4 forward offered UConn size inside and a different look on defense. She blocked 54 shots – the fifth most by a freshman in program history.

Nelson-Ododa struggled with consistency in practice and spent the season adjusting to the increased physicality and expectations of collegiate basketball. She was able to gain some experience, averaging 14 minutes and starting in place of Samuelson in four games. Three of those were in the AAC Tournament, where she grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds against ECU.

Nelson-Ododa will likely step into a starting role next season. She'll need to learn to avoid fouling, while also working to be more consistent finishing around the rim.

Mikayla Coombs

Mikayla Coombs averaged the second-most minutes off the bench for UConn with 11.5. The sophomore came along in the second part of the season, embracing her role as a more athletic defensive presence for the Huskies.

While Coombs didn't see much playing time, she impressed her coaches with her effort on defense. To continue improving, she'll need to work on her confidence and offense.

Kyla Irwin

Kyla Irwin, who will head into her senior season, started in two games this season, stepping in while Walker recovered from an illness. She averaged 10.3 minutes and grabbed the second-most rebounds off the bench with 52.

Coach Geno Auriemma said he was confident in Irwin's understanding of what the Huskies wanted to do while she was starting, also noting that he'd like it if she and other bench players put themselves in a position to earn more minutes.

Molly Bent

Molly Bent earned plenty of applause from UConn fans this season, with crowds inside Gampel Pavilion roaring to life each time she took the court. Huskies fans chanted for Bent to make shots from behind the arc, and she rarely disappointed. She played in 27 games and made 11 3-pointers as a junior.

Bent finished the season with 53 points and 22 assists, and Auriemma occasionally put her in when he felt like the starters weren't being disruptive enough on defense because Bent's energy is seemingly constant.

Batouly Camara

Batouly Camara played in 25 games and was hindered at the beginning of the season by a sprained MCL. Camara, who will be a senior, scored 39 points and grabbed 29 rebounds, also providing physicality for the Huskies. For next season, she will need to stay healthy and continue being aggressive on defense.

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