KK Arnold came to UConn to learn from the best

As the Huskies' future point guard, Arnold is trying to soak in all she can from Paige Bueckers and Nika Mühl.

Photo: Daniel Connolly

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As UConn's future point guard, KK Arnold came to learn from the best

To some, UConn wouldn’t have been a very attractive landing spot for a top point guard prospect.

The Huskies already have Paige Bueckers — not only a former national player of the year and All-American but also a Nancy Lieberman Award winner for being the best point guard in the nation — and Nika Mühl — who set the program’s single game and season records for assists this past year. The duo is expected to monopolize floor general duties this season. Beyond that, UConn will also feature two other guards in Azzi Fudd and Caroline Ducharme who are certain to play big minutes when healthy.

So minutes are scarcely available in the Huskies’ backcourt. But where some would look at that situation as a negative, KK Arnold views it as a great opportunity.

“Learn from the best of the best…that's how I can put it,” she said. “We have leaders like them and seniors like them, as soon as they leave or however it is, they prepared you well enough to take on and do whatever it takes to be that leader and step in their shoes.”

That means Arnold — the No. 6 prospect in the class of 2023 according to ESPN — is entering into her freshman year with an eye towards the future. Bueckers and Mühl could both be gone after this year (though both players have additional eligibility), which would mean the logjam at the point would quickly clear. With Inês Bettencourt as the only ball-handler projected to be on the roster, Arnold appears to be in line to be UConn’s future floor general.

So for now, she’s trying to soak up as much information as she can to prepare for that possibility.

“Everybody wants to play but as of right now, I'm just learning how to prepare myself for the first game and just learning how can I make my teammates better,” Arnold explained.

That doesn’t mean she’ll spend her entire freshman season on the bench. Arnold is plenty talented and should find her way onto the floor one way or another. The initial path could be with her defense.

After backcourt injuries forced UConn to have its most conservative defense in recent memory last season, Geno Auriemma wants to get back to an aggressive, high-energy press. Mühl will be at the forefront of it but everyone else will be tasked with helping out as well — including Arnold.

“This year, [Mühl] knows [pressing is] exactly what I want to do every single game, right? KK Arnold knows that's exactly what I want to do every single day…they know this is how we're going to play. ‘If I want to get on the court, this is what I'm gonna have to do,’” Auriemma said.

Luckily, that’s right in Arnold’s wheelhouse.

‘She's gonna help us defensively, maybe pick up some full court, get in a stance and create some more opportunities, create more possessions,” associate head coach Chris Dailey said.

With the ball in her hands, Arnold plays downhill and uses her strength to drive to the basket and either get to the foul line or find her teammates on the outside. She can also knock down shots on her own if needed.

“KK has pushed the pace, gives us another guard that pushes the pace,” Dailey said. “She's an improved shooter from what I've seen, can get to the rim, is physical. I think that gives us another guard that can do that.”

Arnold isn’t worrying about how much playing time she’ll get — especially not early on. She’s confident that whenever she’s on the court, she’ll leave her mark however she can.

“That's the mindset: Just impact the game however I can,” Arnold said. “Then when I get the minutes or get the opportunity to go out there, show Coach (Auriemma) all I can do, show my teammates that I'm willing and able to do everything I can in my power to win.”

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