"She's doing well," coach Geno Auriemma said. "She's frustrated and she's anxious to get back working out and getting on the court. It's going to take a while. She's finally off crutches and she's still in the boot, will be for a little while longer."
The 2018-19 Huskies, all returning players and freshmen Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams, have settled on campus for summer classes that began Tuesday.
UConn is 140-2 since the seniors first arrived, with an undefeated national championship season followed by two overtime losses in the Final Four. Now the Huskies are preparing for a season with the nucleus of seniors Samuelson on the wing, Napheesa Collier up front and junior point guard Crystal Dangerfield on the perimeter.
Samuelson and Collier are likely to be national player of the year candidates.
"I think those two are as good as any two on any other team," Auriemma said. "There are a lot of good players, I understand. I think Napheesa is going to get back to her sophomore year, where she's going to have a lot more opportunities around the basket that she didn't have maybe as many last year. I think she learned a lot. And Lou is going to be Lou."
Collier shot 67.8 percent and averaged 20.4 points as a sophomore in 2016-17, and shot 57.8 percent and averaged 15.9 points as a junior (Stevens' only season with the team).
Samuelson averaged 20.2 points as a sophomore, 17.5 as a junior.
Dangerfield is coming off a breakthrough season, averaging 9.2 points and four assists despite being limited by shinsplints for long stretches.
"I don't know that I'd trade Crystal for another point guard in the country, and she's only going to be better this year," Auriemma said.
There are holes to fill. Two of the most important questions are how much forward Megan Walker, the 2017 national high school player of the year, can contribute as a sophomore after a rocky debut season, and what roles Nelson-Ododa and Williams can play.
"Megan is going to be better," Auriemma said. "She looks great. She's worked really hard. Obviously she is really, really disappointed in the way last year went but a lot of freshmen, that's what happens."
Williams, the 2018 national high school player of the year, and Ododa-Nelson, another top national recruit, were recently named to the USA Basketball U-18 national team.
UConn's top 2019 recruits are forward Aliyah Boston, the two-time Massachusetts Gatorade player of the year from Worcester Academy, Haley Jones, the California Gatorade player of the year out of Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, and Jordan Horston, a highly-rated guard from Columbus (Oh.) Africentric High.
Jones has visited UConn. Horston is expected to visit this weekend, and Boston is expected the week after. Auriemma can't comment on recruits, per NCAA rules.
"The guys coming back, hopefully, have all gotten a little bit better, and the two incoming freshmen hopefully can come in and play," he said of Williams and Nelson-Ododa. "They may have to play a bigger role this year than the freshmen last year had to play. It almost reminds me of Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson [key contributors as freshmen in 2010-11], where they come in and you go, 'Hey, whether you're ready or not, you're going to have to go.' That's going to take a while, as the season goes on, to figure all that stuff out. And the schedule is even harder this year. We're going to learn a lot as we go."