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Preseason All-American Ballots: What About Two-Time First-Team All-American Katie Lou Samuelson?

Our 3 panelists selected their preseason All-American team and surprisingly UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson didn’t make any of their ballots. Given that she is a two-time first-team All-American coming into the season, there is no question in my mind that she should be a first-team preseason All-American again. Samuelson has led the Huskies in scoring two years in a row and will be coming into her senior season healthy and with great preparation.

Courtesy of ESPN

Since stepping foot in Storrs, Connecticut, Katie Lou Samuelson has developed her game to become more than a pure scorer and 3-point shooter. Each season she has increased her rebounds per game and total assists per season.

In her freshman season, she was able to develop and learn from UConn’s “Big 3” of Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart. She was part of history when UConn won their 4th straight NCAA championship but was unable to play in the national championship game after breaking her left foot in the semifinal vs. Oregon State.

Samuelson had a breakout sophomore season. She had big shoes to fill with UConn’s “Big 3” graduating as the Huskies’ tried to continue their 75-game win streak. Connecticut proved they were yet again the top team in the nation and Samuelson’s led the way with 20.2 points per game. Her 40 points in the AAC championship game, including 10 for 10 behind the 3-point arc, highlighted her season. Samuelson was named a first-team All-American for the first time in her career.

But the 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the Huskies when a last-second shot in overtime by Mississippi State’s Morgan William in the NCAA national semifinal went in, breaking UConn’s win streak which had grown to 111 games.

In Samuelson’s junior season, she was out for revenge for the way the previous season ended. However, she sustained a left ankle injury in the home opener vs. Cal on November 17, 2017. Samuelson wound up playing the entire season with a torn tendon and shredded lateral ligaments in her left ankle. Despite this injury, Samuelson led UConn with 17.4 points per game and was 7th in the country in 3-point percentage shooting 47.5%. For the second year in a row, she was named a first-team All-American.

However, just like the 2017 season, the 2018 season ended in heartbreak when a buzzer-beater in overtime, this time by Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale, decided another national semifinal for the Huskies.

Coming off a successful ankle surgery on April 12, 2018, Samuelson will be fully healthy for the 2018 season opener and determined to cap off her incredible career with an NCAA championship. Samuelson also has a chance to make her third straight All-American first team. If she achieves this honor, she will become the eighth player to be a three-time first-team All-American. She’d be joining elite company with UConn’s Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart, Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Duke’s Alana Beard, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson.

Courtesy of The Associated Press

In preparation for her senior year, Samuelson spent time this summer learning from NBA all-timer and UConn supporter Kobe Bryant. On the podcast “The School of Greatness” with Lewis Howes, Bryant revealed how he and Samuelson watched film together from the 2018 national semifinal loss to Notre Dame. His message to her was to treat winning and losing the same. You need to able to learn from your mistakes to ensure they are not made again. Bryant broke down the game and showed her missed match-ups that should have been taken advantage of. This mentorship created between Bryant and Samuelson will be key to Samuelson’s further development.

I’d expect Samuelson will be the focal point of this year’s UConn team with most of the offense going through her hands. Look for her again to lead the Huskies in scoring and set a career high in points per game. After the graduation of Azurá Stevens, Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse, UConn will not have the firepower of previous seasons. The Huskies probably need Samuelson to average over 20 points per game and 5 rebounds per game.

Samuelson will be the best all-around player on this year’s UConn team. Don’t be surprised if Samuelson puts the team on her back this season like Diana Taurasi did in 2004 when she lead UConn to their 3rd straight national championship and 5th overall as DT earned her second consecutive Final Four MOP honor.

Courtesy of The Spokesman Review

2018–19 will be Samuelson’s last season wearing a UConn jersey and despite her success, she has never played in a national championship game. The question is, will she be able to do it this year? My answer: After the heartbreak of breaking her foot her freshman season and losing in overtime at the buzzer two years in a row in the national semifinal, she will do everything in her power to make sure her team is the last one standing in April and collect another first-team All-American award along the way.

All stats are compiled from Her Hoop Stats and UConnHuskies.com. If you like this content, please support our work at Her Hoop Stats by subscribing for just $20 a year.

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