MYSTIC, Conn. - On April 23, UConn announced Mikayla Coombs' plans to transfer causing an already-concerned fan base to question what would become of the perennial powerhouse that's dominated women's basketball for decades.
The one person who wasn't questioning UConn's future was the man who was key to all the success the Huskies have had in the past. As always, Geno Auriemma knew something the fans didn't - something big.
Auriemma's confidence came from the fact that multiple players would be headed to Storrs soon, radically changing the complexion of his team.
Everyone was waiting in the wings. Ania Makurat, a guard from Poland, was holding off until her season ended. Evelyn Adebayo and former Tennessee guard Evina Westbrook were waiting for school to end. They would all announce their plans to join the Huskies within 11 days of one another at the beginning of May.
"It's not like we were sitting around going 'Geez, I hope we get some good kids that want to come here,' " Auriemma said Tuesday night as the annual UConn Coaches Road Show made its first stop of 2019, at Latitude 41 in Mystic. "We knew who we were getting. We knew we were getting good players, and hopefully maybe we're not finished yet. We'll see."
Suddenly, UConn went from one incoming freshman who might have to play significant minutes to two incoming freshmen and two transfers - all of whom have potential to immediately help.
UConn is now heading into next season with returning starters Crystal Dangerfield, Megan Walker and Christyn Williams, as well as a plethora of new talent who have either college or professional experience. Makurat, Adebayo and Aubrey Griffin will all be able to play immediately, while Westbrook's fate is still undetermined.
The school applied for a waiver for Westbrook, who would normally have to sit out a year after transferring. Auriemma isn't certain whether the NCAA will give the waiver because the decisions are made on such a case-by-case basis that it's hard to speculate on the outcome.
If Westbrook is allowed to play, she would give the Huskies a big boost on offense and help make up for UConn losing the production of Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. But if she's unable to play, UConn is still in a much better position than it was a month ago thanks to Adebayo and Makurat being eligible once they arrive in Connecticut.
"Evelyn is kind of like new to the game. She's bounced around a little bit and has a lot of really neat offensive skills," Auriemma said. "She's a big kid (6 feet 1) that can shoot and handle the ball, and we need some size and we need some rebounding. She's going to provide some of that. And depending on when we get Evina, we're getting a terrific guard who can play any one of those perimeter spots and make a lot happen. She's a really skilled offensive player."
With the additions of Adebayo, Westbrook and Makurat, the immediate panic surrounding UConn's depth has subsided. Auriemma can't help but laugh when he's asked about the doubts surrounding his team. Yes, he's had a few small or disappointing recruiting classes, but somehow the Huskies have always managed to stay near the top. And this spring, he's not only fulfilled UConn's needs, but reloaded his team with players who could make impacts this season.
"Recruiting is never as good as you think it is and never as bad as other people think it is. I think we're in pretty good shape," Auriemma said. "I think sometimes people forget that if any other team had three starters back people would be talking about them being a national championship contender, but for us it's 'You have three starters and you don't have anybody coming off the bench. Well, we haven't had anybody coming off the bench for the last three years, so I don't know why that's a big cause for concern.' But the kids that we've added, I think, are really good. ... I like our team. I really do."
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