The recruiting process had been wide-open for Napheesa Collier. She admittedly did not have a particular college she wanted to attend. She also had no intention of committing when she arrived at UConn Friday to begin her official visit.
During her visit, though, everything changed. From a tour of the campus to the time spent with the players and the coaching staff, it just felt right to Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward from St. Louis, Mo. It felt so right that she orally committed to Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma this morning.
“I started to feel it when I got on campus and was seeing everything,’’ Collier said. “I loved all the other schools, too. And I really loved everything about Maryland. It was just something that I kind of felt in my gut when I went (to UConn) that this was the school for me and I didn’t want to be looking anywhere else.’’
Collier, who is ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2015 by All-Star Girls Report, No. 6 by Full Court and No. 7 by ESPN HoopGurlz, visited Maryland last weekend. She also had Kentucky, Missouri and Notre Dame on her list.
“There’s a certain aura about UConn and Coach Auriemma and his staff,’’ said Gamal Collier, Napheesa’s father. “The girls were fantastic, which is her big thing. She just wants to feel that vibe. And she had a good time with the girls. She had a good feel of the place and she just looked at me and said, `This is where I want to go.’ Picking UConn is a good thing.’’
Collier said that she stayed with UConn star Breanna Stewart during her visit. She was impressed by the closeness shared by the Huskies.
“It was really cool,’’ Napheesa Collier said. “They all hung out together. We just hung out in girl’s dorms. I really liked how they all stay together. So that was one of the reasons why I liked it.’’
Collier was at Auriemma’s home this morning having breakfast with rest of the UConn coaching staff when she informed him of her decision.
“We hugged for a long time,’’ Napheesa Collier said. “And there was a lot of cheering from the other coaches. So it was really cool.’’
Collier averaged 23.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.9 steals to lead Incarnate Word Academy to a 31-1 record and a second straight Class 4 state championship this past season. According to STLhighschoolsports.com, she had 24 points (12-of-14 FG) against Marshfield in the state semifinals and 33 (13-of-15 FG) against Dexter in the final.
The Red Knights are a combined 62-1 over the last two seasons since Collier transferred from Jefferson City (Mo.) High.
“It was five excellent opportunities,’’ Gamal Collier said. “There wasn’t really a wrong one. No one did anything that was unsatisfactory or that was detrimental. So it was one of those things where it was just five great opportunities. So then it came down at the end of the day to the best feeling. And when she got there she knew.’’
Napheesa Collier said that is a relief that the recruiting process is now complete.
“It feels like a hundred thousand pounds has been lifted off my shoulders,’’ Napheesa Collier said. “It’s feels so good. It’s what my focus has been ever since I started playing in AAU tournaments. So it’s a big day.’’