Katie Lou Samuelson is a 20-year-old native of Huntington Beach, California, who is a guard/forward for the UCONN women’s Huskies, #33. Standing at 6’3″, Samuelson, a junior, has been twice named as the player of the year by the ACC and in the opinion of legendary head coach Geno Auriemma. The youngest of three basketball-playing sisters, Samuelson was raised in a family of athletes, perhaps her greatest motivator and source of unwavering support.
Samuelson’s achievements include being named the 2017 American Conference Co-Player of the Year, selection as a member of the 2017 American Conference First Team, selection as a First Team All-American by the AP, WBCA and USBWA in 2017, the 2017 American Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player, a member of the 2016 American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team, the 2016 All-American Conference Tournament Team and being named 2016 ESPNw’s National Freshman of the Year.
Earlier this year, Samuelson suffered a potentially career-jeopardizing ankle injury. However, Samuelson recovered from her injury and appears to be stronger than over, consistently out-performing herself, stunning her coach, teammates and fans alike.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Samuelson is 2nd Only to Teammate Napheesa Collier in the ACC at 20.2 Points Per Game & Averaged 3.9 Rebounds Per Contest
Samuelson has worked to achieve a stellar record at UCONN, earning countless awards, gaining well-deserved recognition, breaking team records and even winning five gold medals playing for Team USA. Samuelson is second only to fellow UCONN Husky Napheesa Collier, scoring 20.2 points per game and averaging 3.9 rebounds per contest, as her official UCONN bio confirms.
Samuelson “finished second only to teammate Kia Nurse in the league at 42.0 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc and led the league at 3.2 made three-point field goals per game. Samuelson’s 119 made three-point field goals marks the second-highest single-season total in UConn history, only two treys shy of tying Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ record total of 121 established during the 2014-15 campaign … Dished-out 118 assists and was one of five Huskies to drop at least 100 dimes … Scored in double-figures in all but two contests and posted at least 20 points 16 times, including a career-high 40 points in the conference tournament championship game victory against USF on March 6,” continues uconnhuskies.com.
Her record alone is proof that Samuelson is an incomparable, invaluable asset to the Huskies. However, Samuelson’s commitment to the team, positive attitude and constant drive to improve her skill-set are what truly set her apart from the pack. Samuelson has been described as the total package of skills and positivity, and it is this combination that has made her the recipient of the title of Player of the Year, as outlined in more detail below.
2. Samuelson Suffered a Potentially Career-Jeopardizing Ankle Injury Earlier This Year
Samuelson’s career has been far from smooth sailing. In 2016, Samuelson suffered a broken foot. Samuelson was a freshman at the time and suffered the injury to her left foot while playing against Oregon State, forcing her to leave the game to seek medical attention from her trainer. While Samuelson was unable to continue playing, she returned to the game with a boot on her foot to watch and support her teammates. Fortunately, the Huskies were able to persevere through the NCAA without Samuelson, already the team’s top scorer during her first year.
“Samuelson, a 6-foot-3 freshman, left the Huskies’ 80-51 Final Four win over Oregon State to be examined by a trainer and returned to the bench wearing a walking boot,” reported ABC News. Coach Geno Auriemma was asked who would replace Samuelson, and responded “I think we’re gonna have to go to practice tomorrow and see what looks really good,” continued ABC News.
Earlier this year, Samuelson suffered an ankle injury while playing against Texas. Benched as a result of her injury, Samuelson’s ability to continue playing throughout the remainder of the year looked uncertain. However, Samuelson was able to make a full recovery, and her performance appears to be stronger than ever, despite sustaining the injuries to her foot and ankle.
Coach Auriemma commented that Samuelson has “had issues on that side for a long time dating back to high school…I hope it doesn’t keep her out anymore, but there is never a time when she is going to be 100%,” reports Swish Appeal.
3. Samuelson has Been Named Player of the Year by the ACC, Coach Geno Auriemma & Beyond
Samuelson was unanimously selected as the Player of the Year, as The UCONN Blog reports. “One day after the UConn Huskies were showered with awards and honors from the AAC, Katie Lou Samuelson was named conference player of the year in an awards ceremony at Mohegan Sun Saturday morning. The junior guard was the Huskies’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game and leads the nation in three-point shooting percentage, hitting 49 percent of her attempts behind the arc,” continues The UCONN Blog.
“Samuelson takes The American’s top honor on the heels of a prolific offensive regular season. The Player of the Year nod is the second-consecutive for the junior after sharing the award with teammate Napheesa Collier in 2017. Samuelson led the undefeated Huskies with 18.3 points per game on 54.4 percent shooting and currently paces the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 49.0 percent. She ranks second in the conference in 3-pointers per game (3.0) and fourth in free-throw percentage (81.9), earning two American player of the week nods during the regular season. The Huntington Beach, California product was a unanimous selection on the All-Conference First Team for the second year running. A finalist for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, the Wade Trophy, the John R. Wooden Award and the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, Samuelson poured in a season-high 33 points on Dec. 22 against Duquesne,” The American reports.
Perhaps the greatest honor of all, it was head coach Geno Auriemma who stated earlier this year that in his opinion, Samuelson was, in fact, the most worthy recipient of the award, and the most likely contender. Not surprisingly, Coach Auriemma was correct.
4. Samuelson is Considered to be an Incredibly Versatile Player, Establishing Herself as More than Just an Incredible Shooter, no Small Feat in Itself
Samuelson is one of the greatest three-point shooters in the team’s history, as the New Haven Register reports. A great accomplishment in and of itself, Samuelson has proven herself to be even more than an incredible shooter. Samuelson’s versatility makes her one of the Huskies’ greatest assets, compared to teammate Azura Stevens, also known for her impressive skill-set on the court. Both Samuelson and Stevens are considered to be athletic enigmas.
Samuelson is known for her aggression on the court and uncanny ability to shoot on the opposing team, usually from the 3-point line. Samuelson is also known for her assists and ability to score layups, coordinating her plays with her teammates. “She has gotten a lot tougher. She’s not afraid of the contact and she’s been reading the defense really well, anticipating, and that’s what makes her dangerous from all areas of the court. It’s kind of just pick your poison. She has worked so hard on being so much more than a shooter and she knew she had the ability to have that potential, so I’m glad that she’s in her zone now,” teammate Gabby Williams told The New Haven Register.
Prior to enrolling at the University of Connecticut, Samuelson was a prolific player while in high school. Samuelson’s accomplishments include being honored as the national Player of the Year by Gatorade, USA Today and McDonald’s (the Morgan Wotten Players of the Year Award), being awarded the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and the Naismith Trophy following the 2014-15 season, being named to the Naismith High School and WBCA High School All-American first teams, being selected as the USA Today All-USA California Player of the Year and a member of the USA Today All-USA and All-California first teams, and being selected for the Consensus All-American first team, as Samuelson’s official UCONN bio confirms.
5. Samuelson is the Youngest of a Trio of Basketball-Playing Siblings, Hailing From a Family of Athletes
Samuelson’s parents both played basketball professionally; her “father played professional basketball in Europe; her mother was named to the All-England Netball Team; and both sisters played basketball at Stanford University,” reports usab.com.
Samuelson’s two older sisters are also prolific basketball players; “both sisters also attended USA Basketball trials, but Katie Lou was the first to earn a spot on a USA team. Bonnie was at the 2010 U17/Youth Olympic Games trials and the 2009 U16 trials. Karlie was at the 2011 U16 and 2012 U17 trials,” continues usab.com.
In fact, Samuelson played against her sister Karlie in the Final Four. As The LA Times reported, Samuelson was asked how her parents felt about the fact that she was about to go up against her sister in the 2017 NCAA Final Four. “I guess it’s a good problem to have,” responded Samuelson.