Noblesville High School junior Ashlynn Shade had her choice of the top women’s basketball programs in the nation.
The 5-foot-10 guard was sold on her January visit to University of Connecticut and made a verbal commitment that weekend to continue her playing career at the school.
“It was everything — the coaches, the players, the arena and the school,” said Shade, who is rated the No. 5 player nationally in ESPN’s class of 2023. “The environment there was just different. I had like chills and tingles just being there. I knew in my gut this was where I wanted to be. It was just a gut instinct knowing what’s right for me. Everything there fit me and fit my basketball style. It was a place where I knew I could accomplish my goals that I had in basketball.”
UConn has won 11 NCAA championships, more than any other women’s basketball program, all under coach Geno Auriemma.
“Just being surrounded by so many great payers and being challenged every day will be great,” Shade said. “I wanted to play for (Auriemma). I know it’s not always going to be easy, but it’s what I’m looking for to have someone to push me to be the best player I can possibly be. I know being coached by him will be great.”
Noblesville coach Donna Buckley is certain Shade will succeed with the Huskies.
“She is an ultra-competitive person,” Buckley said. “She will enjoy the challenges that UConn will bring. It will no doubt help mold her into the player she wants to become. She wants to play professionally, and there is no better place to prepare her for that goal.”
Prior to the Jan. 18 game, Shade was averaging 20.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.8 assists per game for the Millers (15-4).
“I just want to keep producing and getting better every year,” Shade said.
Shade made the decision to commit to UConn on her visit, having attended the Jan. 9 home game against Creighton. She didn’t announce it publicly on social media until she informed other programs about her decision.
“I wanted to give all the coaches I had a relationship with to let them know of how appreciative I was of them taking time to recruit me,” Shade said.
Shade’s other final choices were Indiana, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
She announced her decision the morning of Jan. 12, when the Huskies were in Indianapolis to play Butler.