UConn sophomore Bria Hartley had no idea that she would be named an All-American this season. She felt that she had her moments when she has played like one of the best players in the country, but she is far too humble to get caught up in any talk of individual awards.
Hartley, a 5-foot-7 guard, prides herself on working hard and playing to the best of her ability each time she steps on the court. She was rewarded for her intense work ethic Saturday as she was named to the 10-member WBCA Coaches’ All-America team during a ceremony at the Pepsi Center.
“We didn’t really have a superstar on the team this year so I think this award is really for our whole team and how we all came together and how we all played together,’’ Hartley said. “And it’s still an honor to be named to this team and it’s definitely a dream come true.’’
Hartley, whose parents, Dennis and Simone Hart¬ley were among those in the crowd, is the 14th member of the Huskies to be honored by the WBCA. UConn now has 26 selections all-time.
Hartley is only the fourth UConn sophomore to be named to the team, joining Svetlana Abrosimova (1998-99), Diana Taurasi (2001-02) and Maya Moore (2008-09). Hartley is averaging career-highs of 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 32.9 minutes this season.
“I think if you look at our team and you put the whole five months together and what we’ve been able to do, I can’t think of anybody who’s more deserving on our team or has had a bigger impact,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Bria works really hard at the game. To think she has two more years … She’s a big-game player and she prepares herself for those big games, and I think that’s why she plays so well in big games.’’
Hartley is averaging 14.8 points, 3.7 rebounds 3.8 assists in 35.1 minutes in 16 games this season against ranked opponents. She had a season-high 25 points at Baylor Dec. 18 and 25 at Notre Dame Jan. 7.
Through the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament, Hartley is averaging a team-high 16.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 33.0 minutes.
“I just think the world of her, obviously,” Auriemma said. “She’s just something special in her approach to the game. No matter how much you want to get on her, no matter how much you get after her for what you want her to do and how you want her to do it, she’s exceptional at fighting back and you’ve got to admire that.’’
With 987 career points, Hartley needs 13 to join fellow Moore (1,432) and Abrosimova (1,102) as the only players in team history to reach 1,000 points during their sophomore season.
Moore and Abrosimova have already been inducted into the Huskies of Honor. Hartley will now have her day too.
“It’s definitely pretty exciting,’’ Hartley said. “But I’ve still got things to focus on. We have our game (tonight) and that’s the main thing we’re focused on this weekend.’’