No program in NCAA women’s college basketball history has won more national championships than Connecticut’s 11. Guided by legendary coach Geno Auriemma, the Huskies have been the gold standard in the women’s game.
Of course, UConn has produced some the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball. Here’s our list of the 20 best in school history — listed in chronological order.
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Kerry Bascom, Forward (1988-91)
Geno Auriemma took over as UConn head coach in 1985. It took four seasons for the Huskies to win a Big East regular-season title, and Bascom was a big reason for that. She was Auriemma’s first star player and first at UConn to be named an All-American. Entering the 2021-22 season, Bascom ranked eighth in school history with 2,177 points. Her 18.1 scoring average is second all-time at UConn. Bascom also averaged 7.6 rebounds and totaled 221 career assists.
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Rebecca Lobo, Center (1992-95)
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Rebecca Lobo is one of the most recognizable players and overall figures in women’s college basketball history. In Lobo’s senior season, UConn won the program’s first national championship while going 35-0. Lobo, the Naismith and The Associated Press Player of the Year in 1995, averaged 16.9 points (fifth in school history) and 10.1 rebounds (tied for first) during her collegiate career. She’s also 11th all-time in scoring (2,133) at Connecticut, third in rebounds (1,268), second in blocks (396), sixth in made free throws (401), and seventh in made field goals (837).
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Jennifer Rizzotti, Guard (1993-96)
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Another member of UConn’s first national title squad, Rizzotti was the engine that made things go during her time in Storrs. While Rizzotti scored more than 1,500 points at Connecticut, her distribution of the basketball and stellar defense defined her collegiate career. She ranks third in school history with 637 assists and 349 steals. Rizzotti was the AP Player of the Year for 1995-96 season, when she averaged 11.0 points, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.9 steals.
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Kara Wolters, Center (1994-97)
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At 6-foot-7, Walters is still the tallest player the history of the Connecticut women’s basketball program. Wolters put that height to good use while starring for the Huskies — and especially part of the ’95 championship team. Wolters — the AP Player of the Year in 1996-97 when she averaged 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds — ranks 10th in school history with 2,141 points, 10 in rebounds (927), fifth in made field goals (947), and third with 370 blocked shots.
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Nykesha Sales, Forward (1995-98)
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Sure, there still might be some controversy regarding how Sales became UConn’s all-time leading scorer at the time, but there was obviously much more to Sales’ college legacy. Currently, Sales, who won a national championship as a freshman and averaged career highs of 20.9 points and 5.7 rebounds during a senior season when she was named first-team All American, ranks seventh in school history with 2,178 points. Sales, however, also happens to be one of the college game’s best all-time defenders and sits atop UConn’s career steals list with 447.
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Svetlana Abrosimova, Forward (1998-01)
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A major part of UConn’s national championship team from 1999-2000, Abrosimova averaged 14.7 points on 50 percent shooting for her four-year college career. Her 538 points in 1997-98 are fourth-most by a freshman in school history. The Russian standout’s 235 rebounds from that same season are the fourth-most by a Huskies freshman. Abrosimova averaged 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists during her time at Connecticut. She ranks sixth in school history with 299 steals and ninth with 372 made free throws.
Bird’s greatness is not limited to Connecticut basketball. She’s among the best and most recognized players in the women’s game. The Huskies went a remarkable 114-4 and won two national championships (2000, ’02) with Bird on board. The school’s all-time leader in 3-point field-goal percentage (45.9) and free throw percentage (89.2), Bird enjoyed her best season in 2001-02, when she averaged career highs of 14.4 points — on 50.5 percent shooting from the field, 46.6 from 3-point range, and 94.2 from the stripe — 5.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.8 steals. Bird was named AP and Naismith Player of the Year that season.
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Another two-time NCAA champion at UConn (2000, ’02). Cash was an All-American during a senior season when she averaged 14.9 points on 54.9 percent shooting with 8.6 rebounds in 2001-02. That year, the Huskies went 39-0, and she earned NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. She scored nearly 1,600 points at Connecticut, ranks seventh in school history with 387 made free throws, and her 336 rebounds from 2001-02 are sixth most among all Huskies players.
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If we’re to pick the greatest player in UConn women’s basketball history, Taurasi just might be at the top of the list. Feisty, in-your-face, a true competitor who is among the elite in the history of the women’s game. She was part of three national championship teams with the Huskies (2002, ’03, ’04), and the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2003 and ’04, while also earning Naismith Player of the Year those seasons. For her college career at Connecticut, Taurasi ranks ninth in scoring (2,156 points), second in assists (648), and seventh in free-throw percentage (81.9). She averaged 15.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.4 rebounds during her four college seasons.
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Barbara Turner, Guard-Forward (2003-06)
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Turner might not have put up the gaudy numbers or claim the legendary status as others on this list. But when it comes to being a great teammate, Turner is one of the best in school history. The versatile Cleveland native helped the Huskies win national titles in 2003 and ’04. She averaged double-digit points in each of her four college seasons. Turner’s 1,629 career points are 20th in school history
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Renee Montgomery, Guard (2006-09)
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Part of the Huskies’ 2009 national championship team, Montgomery averaged a career-high 16.5 points on 44.8 percent shooting and 5.1 assists that season. The Big East Freshman of of the Year, Montgomery was nothing but consistent during a college career at Connecticut, which left her fourth in assists (632), eighth in made 3-pointers (254), ninth in steals (272), tied for 10th in games played (150), and 13th in scoring (1,990). All that laid the ground work for an even more successful WNBA career.
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Before embarking on an exceptional WNBA career, she was part of two national championship-winning teams at Connecticut (2009, ’10). As a senior on that 2009-10 squad, Charles averaged 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds en route to winning the Wooden Award. Charles’ name is plenty etched in the annals of UConn basketball. She’s the school’s all-time leading rebounder with 1,367. She also ranks fourth in scoring (2,346 points), fourth in made field goals (968) and field-goal percentage (61.0), and fifth in blocks (304). In addition, Charles is tied for eighth in games played (152) and 10th in scoring average (15.4 points)
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There are plenty of college basketball pundits who would tab Moore as the greatest women’s player in Connecticut history, and perhaps ever to play the sport. A two-time national champion (2009, ’10), four-time AP All-American, and combined six-time winner of the Naismith and AP Player of the Year and Wooden Award, Moore is the only woman in the history of the UConn program to reach 3,000 points. (3,036, to be exact.) Other notable school records Moore holds: highest scoring average (19.7) and made field goals (1,171). She’s also second all-time in rebounds (1,276) and a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner.
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Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Forward (2012-15)
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Though Mosqueda-Lewis is certainly worthy of being on this list, it still seems as if she’s never really received credit as one of the best college basketball players of the 2010s. During her four seasons at UConn, Mosqueda-Lewis — part of three national title-winning teams (2013, ’14, ’15) — averaged 15.3 points and is the school’s all-time leader with 398 made 3-pointers. Her 44.7 percent shooting from three-point range is second among Huskies players, while her 2,178 career points rank sixth. Mosqueda-Lewis is also second all-time at UConn with an 87.4 free-throw percentage.
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Moriah Jefferson, Guard (2013-16)
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Jefferson went 151-5 during her four-year career at UConn, where she was part of those teams that won four consecutive national championships. One of the great college point guards of all time, the two-time Lieberman Award winner and All-American Jefferson is the Huskies career leader with a 659 assists. She’s also second with 155 games played and 353 steals. In 2015-16, Jefferson averaged a career-high 12.6 points and 5.5 assists.
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Like Moriah Jefferson, Stewart was in on that four-year national-title run for the Huskies. She also happened to be the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player each of those four seasons. A three-time All-American first-teamer and consensus national player of the year winner, Stewart ranks second in UConn history with 2,676 points. She’s also the school career leader in made free throws (484) and blocks (414). Stewart, the first college player ever to record at least 400 blocks and 400 assists, is third all-time with a 17.6 scoring average and ranks fifth in total rebounds (1,179).
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Napheesa Collier, Forward (2016-19)
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One of UConn’s best two-way players, Collier won a national title as a freshman, then got better from an individual standpoint throughout the rest of her Huskies career. A two-time All-American first-teamer, Collier is third in Connecticut history with 2,401 career points. Her 16.0 scoring average is tied for seventh at UConn, while she ranks third in both made field goals (986) and field-goal percentage (61.3). Collier, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, also ranks among the school’s top 10 in rebounds (1,219) and blocks (251).
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Katie Lou Samuelson, Forward (2016-19)
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A two-time American Athletic Conference Player of the Year (2017, ’18), Samuelson was a freshman on the Huskies’ 2016 national title squad. The next season, she averaged 20.2 points — seventh all-time in school history. For her career, Samuelson averaged 16.8 points (sixth in school history) on 49.1 percent shooting, and her 2,342 points rank fifth in the annals of Connecticut basketball. Her 382 career made 3-pointers are second among all Huskies players, while her 41.5 percent shooting mark from beyond the arc ranks seventh.
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Crystal Dangerfield, Guard (2017-20)
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UConn did not win a national title during Dangerfield’s time in college, but it wasn’t because of her effort. The talented guard got better each year at Connecticut and left the school with nearly 1,500 points scored and averaged a career-high 14.9 points and shot 46.3 percent as a senior. Dangerfield’s 83.3 free-throw percentage ranks fifth in school history, as do her 599 career assists. The 225 assists she recorded in 2018-19 are second-most for a single season at Connecticut.
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Paige Bueckers, Guard (2021-present)
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Yes, we know Bueckers is a current Huskie. But what she did during her stellar freshman 2020-21 season is one for the ages in college basketball. In 29 games, Bueckers averaged 20 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 46.4 percent from 3-point range. She also averaged 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals to go with 5.8 assists. (Her 168 assists are a school single-season freshman record.) All that made Bueckers the first freshman to win national player of the year — taking home all four major honors: AP and Naismith Player of the Year; Wooden and Lieberman Awards.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.
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