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Jordan Brand Classic: Katie Lou Samuelson

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As part of our Jordan Classic coverage, Finish Line polled some of the finest up-and-coming players in America about what it means to them to play in the game that bears Michael Jordan’s name, among other topics. Today, the spotlight belongs to Katie Lou Samuelson and Stephanie Watts, who were proud to participate in the first Girls Game in Jordan Classic history.

Katie Lou Samuelson (@33katielou)

ESPN’s No. 1 recruit in the nation, Samuelson excelled at all aspects for Mater Dei on both ends of the court. Unlike her two sisters, both of whom chose Stanford, the 6-foot-3 small forward will chart her own path on the defending champion Connecticut Huskies. Samuelson attended the Jordan Classic, but did not play in the game to rest a minor elbow injury in advance of the U19 World Championship Trials in May.

Photo by Bryan Horowitz

Photo by Bryan Horowitz

Is Michael Jordan someone you look up to?

Definitely. He’s the best player there is. It’s really awesome to be here because it’s the first girls game, and we’re all just excited to be here.

What’s been your favorite part of the trip so far?

So far, it’s just being able to be here and be part of such a great event. We got to meet Maya Moore, and that was awesome. I watched her when I was growing up playing basketball, so that was really cool, and I know that we’re mostly here because of her, and she’s done a lot to help.

In terms of being here for the first girls game, what does that mean to you?

It’s such an honor, because when you go to (the McDonald’s All-American Game), you hear about all the girls who have gone before you. And now we’re going to be the first group. Years to come, people are always going to remember us as the first group, and that’s really an honor.

Besides Jordan, who do you look up to right now? Men’s, women’s, doesn’t matter. You said Maya Moore …

Yeah, definitely, Maya Moore. Kevin Durant is my favorite player, I try to model my game after him. We’re both long, tall guards, so I like to watch him, though he’s been injured. In the girls’ game, it’s probably Delisha Milton-Jones. She’s been such a role model to me and helped me. I’ve worked out with her a few times, and she’s given me a lot of advice.

What brought you to UConn? Is it just kind of where you always wanted to go?

Definitely, though I have sisters at Stanford, so it would have been cool to go there. But when I visited, UConn was such a comfortable environment for me, and I really enjoyed being there. And I know Coach Geno Auriemma is going to make me the best player I can be, and that’s really what I look for in a college.

I know your sister Karlie, who plays for Stanford, is very good as well. Does anything compare to competing against her?

I mean, that’s always going to be toughest, because she knows me more than anyone else knows me. Playing 1-on-1 with her is really tough, but hopefully I’ll get to play against her again really soon!

Last thing, are you a sneaker person?

Not really!

I was going to ask what your favorite Air Jordan was.

I … wouldn’t know. (Laughs) But it’s been awesome at this event. I got my first pair of Jordans!

** Check back later for Jordan Classic hero Stephanie Watts, and then stay tuned tomorrow as we continue our coverage of the Jordan Brand Classic with a couple of insider perspectives, Knicks executive and former All-Star Allan Houston, plus ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi.