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Tuck leaving UConn to go pro

Morgan Tuck arrived at UConn with teammates Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart, and she plans to leave with them, too.

Tuck, a redshirt junior forward, has opted to bypass her final year of eligibility and enter next week’s WNBA Draft. She announced her decision during a phone interview with ESPN on Wednesday.

"I won't be returning to UConn," Tuck said. "I'm going into the draft this year."

Tuck said before the season that she would return for her senior year. She was only able to play eight games as a sophomore (2013-14) after suffering a right knee injury that would require surgery.

The same knee also forced her to sit out nearly two weeks this season, admitting later knee problems would likely shorten her professional career. She still played well enough to be selected as one of the 10 players on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-America team and earned Associated Press All-America second team honors.

“Some of what Tuck does on one leg is amazing,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said a month ago. “Sometimes, she's the one that gets overlooked because of what Stewie and Moriah do. But I guarantee you, no one takes her for granted here. I have a hard time yelling at her. She's always in the right place.”

The WNBA Draft will be held April 14 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Connecticut Sun have the third and fourth overall picks. Stewart and Jefferson, respectively, are widely considered to be the top two picks.

Tuck’s medical history will give most WNBA teams pause. She’s also an undersized power forward (6-foot-2), but her smarts have often been lauded by teammates and opponents.

“I'd have to really do my homework on her and all (teams) will,” said Rebecca Lobo, an ESPN women’s basketball analyst. “She does everything really well, and that’s why she’s so valuable.”

Tuck is the second player to declare this week. Michigan State forward Aerial Powers, another redshirt junior, announced Monday that she will enter the draft. She is expected to be a first round pick.

n.griffen@theday.com

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