Ever since Tamika Williams became the first No. 1 recruit to choose to play for the UConn women's basketball team in 1998, coach Geno Auriemma and his staff have had more than their share of success landing the best of the best that high schools have to offer.
It happened again for the Huskies today for the fourth time in five years and 13th time overall.
Azzi Fudd - a 5-foot-10 senior guard from Arlington, Virginia, and the consensus top player in the Class of 2021 - celebrated her 18th birthday today by announcing that she will attend UConn next year, choosing the Huskies over UCLA, Maryland, and Louisville. She becomes the fourth player in UConn's recruiting class and makes it among the best, if not the best, in the country.
"This recruiting process has been crazy," Fudd said on ESPN Instagram live. "It's been a blessing to decide what college I want to go to.
"It was a hard decision. But when it came down to it I wanted to be somewhere that I would be proud of and know I made the best decision for me."
The week long Fall signing period began today, and Fudd signed with the Huskies immediately.
Fudd has been on the recruiting radar for awhile, having received her first scholarship offer from Maryland while in sixth grade.
She was 14 when she became the youngest player to make USA Basketball's U-16 national team in 2017 and helped Team USA, coached by former UConn star Carla Berube, to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-16 Championship. A year later, she teamed in the starting backcourt with current Huskies' freshman Paige Bueckers to help guide the Americans to gold in convincing fashion at the 2018 FIBA U-17 World Cup in Belarus by averaging 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds.
In 2019, Fudd became the first high school sophomore to be named Gatorade national Player of the Year and was also USA Today's Player of the Year as she averaged 26.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in leading St. John’s College High to the WCAC and DCSAA state championships.
But in April of 2019, Fudd tore her ACL and MCL in her right knee on a drive to the basket at USA Basketball’s U-18 3x3 national championship. The ensuing surgery cost her the early part of her junior season though she did return in time to lead St. John's College to the DCSAA state title.
Now she'll get ready for her senior season and her future at UConn.
"I'm looking forward to winning and being part of the UConn family," Fudd said.
She joins Amari DeBerry (6-5 forward, Buffalo, New York), Caroline Ducharme (6-2 guard, Milton, Massachusetts), and Saylor Poffenbarger (6-2 wing, Middletown, Maryland) in the Huskies' recruiting class. UConn received Poffenbarger's signed letter of intent this morning and Ducharme said she will also sign today.
Fudd, who is named after her mother's favorite player growing up - former Stanford All-American and Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Azzi, will become the second player whose mother played against Auriemma's Huskies. Katie Smrcka-Duffy was a standout and all-Big East performer at Georgetown who faced UConn during its first tenure in the Big East. Freshman Mir McLean's mother, Ayanna, faced UConn while playing at Northeastern in 1991.
Other No. 1 recruits to sign with UConn are Williams (1998), Diana Taurasi (2000), Ann Strother (2002), Tina Charles (2006), Maya Moore (2007), Elena Delle Donne (2008, though Delle Donne was on campus for just one day before leaving and eventually transferring to Delaware), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011), Breanna Stewart (2012), Katie Lou Samuelson (2015), Megan Walker (2017), Christyn Williams (2019), and Bueckers (2020).
UConn, which does not have a senior on its roster, has one more scholarship available for the Class of 2021.