Geno Auriemma and UConn Women’s basketball are once again on top of the Mountain. Coming off another National Championship ( the program’s 9th under Geno ) AND another UNdefeated season ( the program’s 5th ) it certainly would be understandable for Elite girls basketball recruits to want to be a part of such a prestigious tradition and consistent opportunities to a Win National Title. But, what about the humanistic side of this legendary leader and the women behind him…beyond chasing championships, what is the LURE to want to join Geno and be a Husky.
I recently had the opportunity to interview 3 young ladies ( Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson & De’ Janae Boykin) who are each considered among the Top 10 players in the 2015 class, and who each have already made a verbal commitment to be a Husky. I inquired with them and their parent(s) as to what what they learned about the Geno and his Girls…
In Part 3 you will hear from De’Janae Boykin, a 6’2″ Forward from Springdale, MD and her parents Jeff (Father ) & Sheila (Mother ).
Q : What do you remember about your first call / conversation with Geno ?
De'JANAE : How nervous I was, I do remember he told me that I was going to come to UConn, he said remember this date and that I said this. JEFF : We were given a message to give him a call last spring and We did, it was a pleasant conversation he told me how it's tough to get 3 women to agree on anything and that all 3 coaches felt that De'Janae would be a good fit for UConn
Q : What about his personality & the person he is has surprised you now that you have gotten to know him ? De'Janae : How cool he his and how funny he is and likable he is. JEFF : He has a great personality and he is funny and seems very genuine. And he cares about the kids.
Q : What about Geno the person... is the reason you want to play for him ? De'Janae : How he connects with his players and how straight up he is about everything. What about Geno the person... is the reason you want your daughter to play for him ? JEFF : Really it was her choice but I gave my thought on all the programs that recruited her, and she felt that she wanted to play for Geno, and I supported her decision. I think he will be a good coach for her.
Q : Do you have an example of his level of Honesty that sticks out ? De'Janae : He told me how it wasn't what I could do for him, it's what he could do for me and he said if you work hard and can deal with me you will be fine at UConn. JEFF : One of the first things he said to my daughter was "it's not what you can do for my program it's what I think my program can do for you".
SHEILA : Geno never promised De'Janae anything.
Q : What is your impression of each of the Assistant Coaches ? De'Janae : Marisa and Shea are a lot of fun to talk to and be around and are like they can be your sisters and "CD" is like a big sister or mom and is a lot of fun. JEFF : They are all good people, Marisa Moseley came to so many of De'Janae games that I lost count, "CD" and Shea have also come to game, but they care about the players and have great personality.
Q : What impression did you have of UCONN players before you ( your daughter for parent )were recruited by the program ? and now what sticks out to you about them, since you have gotten to be around them ? De'Janae : BEFORE : I had a Impression that they were really good and that they knew it (confident)
AFTER : That the girls really get along and seem to enjoy each other and have fun on and off the court as well. JEFF : Watching them on tv we knew they were good, but when we came on a weekend visit February during the Louisville game De'Janae got to spend time with the players and came away really liking them and made a connection with them. We went to visit the dorms and we were in Stephanie Dolson and Breanna Stewart's room I think and I remember my wife asked Breanna if Geno was really tough on them, and she said yes and that you don't like it sometimes but you understand that he only wants the best for you.
SHEILA : I enjoyed meeting Geno's wife, and that the players seem pretty close. I also think Geno, "CD", Marisa, and Shea will be good for De'Janae.
Q : Was there a common theme(s) or statement did the girls on team convey to you about playing for Geno ? De'Janae : They said he can be tough on them but he only wants the best for them and pushes them to be the best. JEFF : That he's tough on them to make them better players.
Q : Having had up close & personal exposure to the program...is there something about the environment or how they do things that you think would surprise people ?
DE'JANAE : How down to earth everyone is. Also, the amount of local media coverage on the program did catch us off guard, after I committed me and my dad received a lot of phone calls asking for a interviews from reporters. JEFF : I watched a morning walk through run by Marisa before the Louisville game and they were working on a play that Lville would run, and Geno watched and made what some would consider a minor change to how they would guard it and being a former player and coach I could appreciate how he did that because it had nothing to do with Xs and Os, it was just knowing basketball, and while watching the game I saw how that minor change disrupted Louisville and caused a few turnovers. SHEILA : While we were at the Louisville game in February former players would come and talk to us about the program and how much they love it and the fan support has to be one of if not the best in the country the Louisville game was packed at Gampel.
Q : Thinking back to the home visit...what impressed you most about how the Staff who was there handled it ? was there something funny or unique that happened ? De'Janae : Geno story about trying find hair gel was funny, and at one point before he and Marisa left he looked at me and said "you have 7 minutes to commit before I leave, and after he left I told my parents that he almost had at the 5 minute mark. JEFF : Yes, Geno told a story about trying to find hair gel in my neighborhood, how he went to a hair/wig shop than a barbershop and finally across the parking lot to Target where he found some, that story was funny and we just had fun talking.Then he and I got on the Eagles/Redskins football thing and kinda went back and forth with that.
Sheila : I was a little nervous to meet Geno on the home visit because he was so intense on the sideline during games, and I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't spoken with anyone from UConn, but once Geno and Marisa came on the home visit and Marisa asked Geno to tell the story about trying to find hair gel. He told that funny story I was relaxed and enjoyed the visit.
Q : At what point in your recruiting process did you realize that you would rather join a program full of players just as good as you AND where you wouldn't be given "star treatment" on or off the court...as opposed to going to a place where you could have been ? De'JANAE : After my parents took me there for a visit and I met and talked with the players and when I watched and liked the way they played against Louisville in person and a meeting in Geno's office, I didn't say anything but they had my attention and I started really thinking about it.
Q : What about the campus and/or University did you come to appreciate most (not basketball related ) ? De'Janae : Everything is so close Q : What was the final thing / experience that convinced you , that UCONN was where you wanted to be ? De'JANAE : I think at the official visit, I had plenty of conversations with the players and I really enjoyed the visit and I just couldn't shake the feeling that this is where I wanted to be.