SLAM 235 cover star Azzi Fudd is a superstar. We knew that three years ago when she became the first sophomore to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year high school award. We knew when she signed NIL deals with BioSteel, Chipotle, and Stephen Curry’s Under Armour-affiliated SC30 brand.
In her freshman season at UConn, Fudd averaged 12.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 steals on 43 percent shooting from three. For a typical rookie, Fudd’s performance would be considered a success. But for the D.C native, she came in the type of hype that gives you bigger expectations.
“Looking back,” she said, per The Athletic. “I’m, like, embarrassed. That wasn’t me playing.”The “next Steph Curry” suffered a nagging foot injury that prevented her from playing the way she wanted last season. The pain, coupled with the pressure she felt from the “idea that [she’s] at UConn, so [she] has to be perfect,” eroded her confidence. Her foot holding her back from being the explosive scorer we came to know at St. Johns College High School, Fudd did not hold back on her mindset throughout her rookie season.
“My confidence in my abilities shattered,” Fudd said. “I felt like I couldn’t do it, so I didn’t.”Fortunately for UConn fans, the 19-year-old is confident: “freshman Azzi is gone. I’m a totally different player now”.
In UConn’s exhibition game vs. Kutztown and their season opener vs. Northeastern, the superstar undoubtedly returned to being a superstar. With a new understanding that she “can’t be perfect” and can only be herself and “go out there and go after it,” Fudd is BALLING.
The guard casually dropped 29 points and nine threes (56 percent) in a 115-42 win against Kutztown on Sunday.She followed up with 26 points, four assists, and a career-high six steals in a 98-39 win against Northeastern.
“Just attacking, getting to the rim, doing other things helps me get at least in that rhythm to make the one three that I did make,” Fudd said postgame, per YahooNews. “Just having my teammates in my ear telling me to keep shooting and keeping my confidence up means the world.”Self-assured, unflappable, and with “absolutely perfect” practice habits, according to Coach Geno Auriemma, Fudd is more than just her long-distance shooting. As a matter of fact, Fudd is just playing strong basketball right now. Auriemma added that he was most impressed by the sophomore’s shooting and self-assurance.
“I mean, I would think that everybody knew that,” Auriemma said, per Yahoo. “But if they didn’t know — that’s the way she played when she was in high school. She didn’t just stand in one spot and fire up 3s. She scores a lot of different ways, and I was happy to see her be so aggressive with the ball.”
Auriemma laid out a high ceiling for Fudd this season, but the sophomore prefers not to lay out accolade-related goals for fear of sounding boastful. When asked what she is capable of this year, Fudd simply said, “I want to be one of the leaders on this team. I know I can be a playmaker, but I want to be a person that my team can rely on in every game, and that starts with my mindset and my confidence”.
The standard at UConn is an NCAA Championship. With no Paige Buckets, no Ice Brady, and for now, no Ducharmania, the path to the NCAA Finals will not be easy this season. But, like Fudd says, “The Obstacle is The Way.”
Fudd and UConn host No. 3 ranked Texas at home on Monday.