Ahead of UConn debut, Azzi Fudd named player of the year

Azzi Fudd - pictured in 2020 - is the 2021 Morgan Wootten Players of the Year
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Author’s note: On Thursday, Azzi Fudd was named 2021 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year. The award – presented annually by McDonald’s as part of the All American Games – is given to the best male and female high school basketball players in the country. Fudd, who is currently finishing up her senior year at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., will start her collegiate career at UConn in the fall. 

Azzi Fudd was just 12 years old when she received her first college scholarship offer.

A few years later, she became one of the first girls invited to Stephen Curry‘s SC30 Select Camp.

And in 2019, Fudd went viral when she hit 268 three-pointers in 18 minutes.

Given all that, it’s a little surprising to learn that Fudd didn’t grow up with a basketball hoop in her driveway.

“I was always at the gym anyway, there was no need to have one at home,” the 18-year-old explained on Wednesday.

Last year, though, Fudd found herself hoop-less when COVID-19 shut everything down – until a family friend stepped in.

“We got a hoop from one of my mom’s friends,” Fudd explained. “So then my parents spray-painted pink lines out on the street: we have a three-point line and a foul line and lane lines… I [can’t] thank that family enough because I don’t know what I would have done in quarantine if I wasn’t able to shoot at all.”

When Katie Fudd gave birth to her daughter in 2002, she decided to name her after a basketball player she admired: 1996 Olympic basketball gold medalist Jennifer Azzi.

“[My mom] just thought she had an amazing character, it wasn’t [just] basketball,” Fudd explains.

When Fudd was in middle school, she had the chance to meet her namesake.

“We were out in San Francisco for a flag football national tournament. And my mom was like, ‘Well, do you want to see if we can go talk to her?'” Fudd reflected.

Jennifer, who was then coaching at the University of San Francisco, stepped out of a meeting to take a photo with the young phenom.

“And that was the highlight of my trip,” Fudd recalled.

When Fudd made the U.S. U-16 national team a few years later, Jennifer reached out.

“She sent me an email that said, ‘Congrats! We need another Azzi in the Olympics. Keep going, keep working hard,'” Fudd recalled.

Fudd is determined to make that happen.

“One of my biggest goals is [to compete] at the Olympics,” she explained. “That’s part of the reason I chose UConn because I knew that they would be able to get me ready for the next level.”

Earlier this week, Fudd watched her future college team pull off an exciting – and controversial – win over Baylor alongside another UConn commit, Caroline Ducharme.

“We’re watching it [on TV] and our hearts are racing, and I’m like, ‘We’re not even there yet and we’re this nervous. Imagine what it’s going to be like in a couple months when we are there.'”

Fudd will be a little closer to the action this weekend; she will be in San Antonio to watch the women’s Final Four. And while Fudd will have to watch this year’s event from the stands, she’s already planning ahead for next season.

“Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to be in the Final Four as well.”

RELATED: Paige Bueckers: first freshman to win AP women’s player of the year

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