This fall, Coach Geno Auriemma will be welcoming one lone freshman into UConn’s Class of 2017. She is Saniya Chong, a 5’9” guard from Ossining NY. Chong finished her high school career with 2,988 points, good for fourth best all time in New York state for girls basketball and ahead of other high school phenoms such as Nicole Kaczmarski (2,583), Sammy Prahalis (2,372), Breanna Stewart (2,367), Ephiphanny Prince (2,320) and Chamique Holdsclaw (2,118).
Chong averaged 34.4 points a game even though she played only three quarters in most games. But she’s more than a scorer and she averaged 9.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game. In fact, she’s known to be more of a distributor than a scorer.
Chong was named New York’s Miss Basketball in March 2013 for leading Ossining to the New York State Class AA Championship, its first ever. Her playing style has been called “exciting” and she’s considered to have a high basketball IQ.
I recently reached out to Ossining High School basketball coach Dan Ricci to ask him a few quick questions about Saniya. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What do you consider Saniya’s strengths and weaknesses?
A: I consider Saniya’s strengths to be her unselfishness and her ability to create her own shot or get someone else theirs. I would say her weakness would be her quietness, which some mistake for a lack of self-confidence. I know she has plenty of self-confidence.
Q: Do you think she’ll play the point at UConn?
A: She will play whereever they want her to play.
Q: Is she comfortable playing off-guard?
A: She’s comfortable playing either spot but I believe she is better with the ball in her hands because of her desire to pass the ball.
Q: Any idea why she chose UConn?
A: It really came down to UConn or Louisville but once she had her official visit to UConn she knew that was where she belonged. She loves the whole family atmosphere at Connecticut; it’s similar to how we run our program at Ossining. She got along really well with all the players and she loves the coaching staff.
Q: Geno once said “I don’t recruit jerks”, so I assume she’s a nice kid. What kind of person is she?
A: You would assume right. Saniya is a great kid. All the attention she has received over the past few years has not gone to her head one bit. She is the most humble athlete I have ever coached in my 29 years of coaching high school sports. She is a team-first kid who, in my opinion, will fit in perfectly with the great young women you already have there in Connecticut.
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