Charli Collier celebrated her 18th birthday on Friday and a party broke out in Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile, the UConn women’s basketball team saw its only commitment from the Class of 2018 stay home.
Collier - a 6-foot-4 forward from Baytown, Texas, and ranked the No. 2 player in the senior class by ESPNHoopGurlz - announced Friday on Twitter that she has backed out of the verbal commitment she made to the Huskies 10 months ago and instead will sign a letter of intent with the University of Texas in November.
“I feel like this is the best decision for me personally and everything is for a reason,” Collier tweeted. “Being closer to home and representing the state of Texas that has been so good to me ... I have a good relationship with the coaching staff, they’re like family to me. And my family and friends get to see me play and grow into a successful individual at such a prestigious university. This recruiting process has taught me so much about listening to my heart and at the end of the day I have to do what is best for me.”
It is the second time Collier has announced for Texas. She reopened the recruiting process about 18 months after originally choosing the Longhorns as an eighth grader. She built a list of 11 schools and made an unofficial visit to Storrs last October for the weekend of the First Night program. She announced she would attend UConn a month later.
“I knew UConn was the best place for me,” Collier said then.
She averaged 23.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocked shots as a junior in leading Barbers Hill High to a 34-5 record and the Texas Class 5A state semifinals. She was her district’s Most Valuable Player, an All-State selection, and a third team Naismith Trophy All-America pick. She’ll enter her senior season with 2,274 points, 933 rebounds, and 247 blocked shots.
With her decision, UConn has at least four scholarships available for the Class of 2018. The Huskies are expecting an official visit from ESPNHoopgurlz’s No. 1 recruit Christyn Williams (5-foot-11 guard, Little Rock, Ark.) next month. Third-ranked recruit Olivia Nelson-Ododa (a 6-foot-4 forward/center from Winder, Ga.) has UConn on her list of six schools. She is making an official visit to South Carolina this weekend and is also considering Duke, Florida State, Georgia, and Stanford.
UConn junior All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier will take part in their first United States senior national team training camp when 20 of the nation’s best get together Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Santa Barbara, California.
“I remember the first time I went to a USA national team camp and I learned so much just from watching Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson,” said four-time Olympic gold medalist and former UConn star Diana Taurasi, who will also be at the camp. “They have to make sure they prepare mentally for that kind of camp. It’s pretty incredible to share the court with some of the players that will be out there, but at the same time they have to make sure to bring their own game. They have to be able to show what they can do. Hopefully, they’ll do that and from there be part of the system.”
Samuelson has won four gold medals playing for USA Basketball (2014 Youth Olympic Games, 2014 FIBA U-17 world championships, 2013 FIBA Americas U-16 championship, 2013 FIBA 3x3 U-18 world championships) as well as a bronze (2014 Youth Olympic Games shootout competition). She was a member of the all-tournament team at the U-17 world championships three years ago.
Collier has captured three gold medals playing for USA Basketball (2015 FIBA U-19 world championship, 2014 FIBA Americas U-18 championship, 2014 Youth Olympic Games) and was a member of the all-tournament team at the U-19 world championships two years ago.
Both took part in the U-23 national team training camp in July, but were not candidates for the 12-player roster that represented the United States at the Four Nations Tournament as the event in Tokyo in August coincided with UConn’s trip to Italy.
They will play alongside seven UConn graduates now in the WNBA: Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream), Kiah Stokes (New York Liberty), and Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun). And they are among five college players invited joining Ohio State senior All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, South Carolina senior All-American forward A’ja Wilson, and Louisville junior guard Asia Durr.
Former UConn star Maya Moore will not be at camp as she’ll be taking part in the WNBA Finals with the Minnesota Lynx against the Los Angeles Sparks.
The camp will be the first under national team coach Dawn Staley, who takes over for Geno Auriemma. The UConn coach led Team USA to two Olympic gold medals and two FIBA world championships gold medals in his tenure from 2009 through 2016.