UConn WBB Signs Four to Class of 2027 - University of Connecticut Athletics (2024)

STORRS, Conn. – The UConn women's basketball team will welcome four freshmen next season as head coach Geno Auriemma announced the program's 2023 signing class Wednesday.

UConn's incoming class includes 5-foot-9 point guard KK Arnold, 6-foot-4 center Jana El Alfy, 6-foot-2 wing Qadence Samuels and 5-foot-10 shooting guard Ashlynn Shade.

"We're excited as can be about our class," Auriemma said. "There were needs that we felt we needed to address, and we feel that we addressed each and every one of them. We wanted to get quicker in the back court, we wanted to get longer on the wing, we wanted to physically get a little tougher and we wanted to add more athleticism and skill up front. I think we accomplished all those things.

"More importantly though, each member of this class really expressed an interest in coming here. They kept basketball at the forefront of why they wanted to be here. They kept going back to I want to play basketball at UConn, I want to go to UConn because I think that's where I can reach my full potential. We feel like we're getting a great group and they're all coming here for the right reasons."

PG, 5-9, Germantown, Wis., Germantown High School

Arnold is ESPN's No. 6-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023 and the second-ranked point guard. She comes to UConn with extensive USA Basketball experience. She was a member of the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, helping the team to gold. Arnold also represented Team USA at the 2022 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup, aiding the team to bring home gold for the third straight year.

As a junior last season, Arnold averaged 24.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 4.4 steals per game, leading Germantown to the Greater Metro Conference championship. Arnold is a two-time Associated Press Wisconsin State Player of the Year and she is a two-time Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year.

Geno Auriemma on KK Arnold:
"KK's probably the first point guard since Moriah [Jefferson] that plays at that pace and is a little bit stronger. She can push the tempo for us. Watching her play this summer, it was especially noticeable how aggressive she was getting into the lane, and defensively being disruptive. She's a terrific leader and her teammates respond to her leadership. We think of all the point guards that are coming out of high school, she fit us better than anyone else."

C, 6-4, Cairo Egypt, Al Ahly Sporting Club

El Alfy will be UConn's first player from Egypt. She has represented Egypt in FIBA competition three times, including the 2021 FIBA U16 African Championship, the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup and the 2022 FIBA U18 African Women's Championship. At the 2022 U18 African Championship, El Alfy led the tournament with 24.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, leading Egypt to silver.

She has participated in the NBA Academy Women's Program since 2019 – fellow alums include current UConn players Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl.

Geno Auriemma on Jana El Alfy:
"I think the skills Jana has are skills that translate well into the way basketball is played today. She's a big kid who's athletic and can play on the perimeter. She can score, she can rebound. She's played a lot of basketball growing up. Her father is the national team coach, so she really understands the game. There's an understanding from everyone of where Jana wants to go and what Jana wants to be. She wants to set an example for all the young girls not just in Egypt but in all of Africa."

W, 6-2, Forestville, Md., Bishop McNamara High School

Samuels is the No. 41-ranked player by ESPN. She led Bishop McNamara High School to a state championship game appearance last season. Samuels averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season. Samuels plays AAU for Team Takeover.

Geno Auriemma on Qadence Samuels:
"Qadence addresses our desire to get more athletic, to get longer. She's one of those kids that is deceptively competitive. When you look at her on the court, you just think it's smooth and skillful. But she has this edge to her that's really dynamic. I think she's one of the better shooters coming out of this class. She's a really impressive shooter and she's not adverse to mixing it up and she wants to take big shots. Qadence is a tremendous teammate and comes from a family with a lot of players who have competed at the college level. She understands exactly what this is all about."

SG, 5-10, Noblesville, Ind., La Lumiere

Shade is ESPN's No. 15-ranked player. As a junior, she averaged 20.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game. Shade led Noblesville High School to the state championship last season, scoring 31 points in the title game.

Shade has totaled 1,698 points, 606 rebounds, 282 assists, 314 steals and 17 blocks in 78 high school games. She was named the 2022 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year.

Geno Auriemma on Ashlynn Shade:
"When I talk about getting tougher, getting physically tougher, and getting more athletic, I don't think there's anyone like Ashlynn who's physically tougher and who's that athletic and has that kind of midrange and is that competitive defensively. I think in Ashlynn we're getting the definition of an old school really good basketball player. You can't even pigeonhole her into a position, you can just say she's just a really good basketball player."

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UConn WBB Signs Four to Class of 2027 - University of Connecticut Athletics (2024)
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