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    UConn Women's Basketball
    Tuesday, February 20, 2024

    Family ties helped Samuelson become an elite shooter

    UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson, sporting a black eye, looks on during a break in the action during Saturday's game against Houston at the XL Center in Hartford. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

    Hartford — Katie Lou Samuelson had the benefit of top-notch coaching even before suiting up for Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma at UConn.

    Her freshman year of high school was spent playing for the late Dan Wiley at Edison High in Huntington Beach, California before three unforgettable seasons at Kevin Kiernan's powerhouse Mater Dei program. Let's not forget how many lessons she learned while playing for highly-respected Russ Davis with the Cal Swish AAU program. However, watching Samuelson take just 57 games to record the 150th 3-pointer of her collegiate career in the Huskies' win over Houston on Saturday, more than a little credit needs to go to her first coach.

    Samuelson's father Jon played at Cal State Fullerton where he was a teammate of 1984 Olympic gold medalist Leon Wood before heading overseas. While there was no 3-point line when he played college basketball, he passed his shooting expertise to all three of his daughters both when he coached them in local recreation leagues or when they were home.

    Bonnie Samuelson is a 2015 Stanford graduate who finished her career with 237 3-pointers. Karlie, the middle daughter, is a Stanford senior who had 207 career 3-pointers heading into Sunday's game against Washington. She also ranks second among Division I players by making 50 percent of her 3-pointers, which happens to be eight spots ahead of the youngest of the three Samuelson sisters.

    It could be argued that if not for the Samuelson family, the Huskies' current NCAA record 95-game winning streak could be at 143 since Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson combined for 22 points with three 3-pointers in the Huskies' last loss back in 2014.

    The NCAA doesn't have a record of sisters with 200 3-pointers or if there is a family with three players with at least 150 3-pointers, but what the youngest of the Samuelsons knows is that her father deserves plenty of credit for her shooting prowess and the keen eye of her sisters as well.

    "A lot of it is him teaching all of us how to shoot," Katie Lou Samuelson said. "It is really cool, I know Karlie just got to 200 recently, that was really exciting for her. I had no idea that we all are at 150 now so that is kind of exciting to look at because whatever they do, I am so proud of them. It is kind of cool that it is the three of us together. It (influenced) how I play and be who I am today because it pushed me to get better every day. I always wanted to be the little sister who did everything they did so I just followed them wherever they went."

    Samuelson is in the midst of the one of the best offensive seasons in UConn history.

    Her 431 points are the third most for a UConn player through the first 20 games of a season, trailing only Maya Moore's 477 and the 439 recorded by Nykesha Sales. Both of those gaudy scoring totals came in their senior seasons, but Samuelson is only a sophomore.

    Her 72 3-pointers are tied with Wendy Davis for the most in program history through 20 games, and she has teamed with classmate Napheesa Collier to record the most points through 20 games of any pair of UConn teammates.

    Her ability to follow in her sisters' footsteps is something teammate Kia Nurse knows something about.

    Nurse's older sister Tamika was Bowling Green's leader with 115 assists during the 2009-10 season and one of three double-digit scorers on a 27-7 team after spending three seasons at Oregon. Her brother Darnell is a former first-round NHL draft pick who was eighth on the Edmonton Oilers in time on ice before suffering a serious ankle injury that has sidelined him since the middle of December.

    "Coming from a family of athletes I can tell you that is a lot more competitive growing up, but it is fun to see your siblings have those accolades and have that success is something that is always extremely fun," Nurse said. "For Lou to have it and all three of them, they are great shooters, it is a family thing obviously, but it is great for us to have her.

    "I was able to be the youngest one out of the three, my sister had already gone through absolutely everything possible while my brother and I were on the same journey. When you grow up in an environment like that, you see how they approach every game, every practice. It doesn't even matter if you are playing if you are playing the same sport, you learn bits and pieces and you learn that there is always somebody to talk to."

    UConn was heavily involved in recruiting Karlie so they have a long-standing connection with the Samuelson family.

    "I think one of the things that I found remarkable about them is they all three as so different," Auriemma said. "You would look at them and say they are really good shooters and they are, they are at the point of being great shooters and you don't say that very often about a lot of people. All three of them are so different. It is so unique to have all three of them be from the same family, have so many similar characteristics yet if you got to know all three of them, you would know they (have a) different personality level and even their games are different. They all do have one thing in common, they can all shoot it."

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