The big news to start the 2017 Fall NCAA Observation period is not where coaches are going nor who’s playing where but the de-commitment of the nation’s top senior Charlie Collier from her early verbal to last year’s national semifinalists UConn. This is a stunning development especially for the nation’s top women’s program to lose a verballed player of that stature. It comes today on Collier’s 18th birthday.
“Charlie contacted me a couple of weeks ago to just talk but on Monday she called to tell me that she was thinking of changing her decision,” said CyFair program director Earl Allen. “I kept this quiet as per her mother’s (Ponda) request but once the rumor of this started to circulate my phone began to ring off the hook with people asking if this de-commitment was true.”
Collier made her verbal to UConn last November during the Thanksgiving weekend just a little more than six months after the loss of her father Elliott to lung cancer. (April 4, 2016) The verbal came following her home visits and during a period of understandably intense and emotional upheaval. At that time every top women’s program in the country was recruiting her including UConn and Texas as well as the likes of Baylor, South Carolina, Louisville, Tennessee, UCLA, Houston, Ohio State and Southern Cal. Collier attended UConn’s ‘First Night” last October and, in turn, committed in November 2016.
Auriemma built a relationship with texts and calls over the past year. Seemingly, there was a perfect fit for Collier being a future “big” in the UConn program. However, the emotional choice to leave home on the heels of the loss of her father, in spite of Auriemma’s attention, evolved as a factor in deciding to stay closer to her brother (Casey) and mother back in her home state of Texas. Rumors of tampering or post-commit recruiting never occurred according to Ponda Collier.
This is not the first time players have de-committed or left UConn as those either decided their role wasn’t what they expected or they were over recruited. The most notable player to leave UConn is WNBA and 2016 USA Basketball Olympic team member Elena Della Donne of the Washington Mystics who left after a brief summer school stay for the University of Delaware. While her detachment from UConn didn’t impact her making this past Olympic team it’s well known the pressure to leave comes with the inference that any future with USA Basketball could be doubt as witnessed by long-time WNBA and Euro stars Candace Parker (Tennessee-LA Sparks) and Crystal Langhorne (Maryland-Seattle Storm) stories.
Collier, who previously made the 2016 silver medal USA Basketball U17 team, did not make this year’s USAB U19 or U23 teams. With the move from UConn and Geno Auriemma on the USAB Women’s Committees it will be up to Collier to overcome any possible retribution or backlash in the future.
Collier put a tweet out commenting on her commit to Texas and her feelings earlier this afternoon.