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Williamsville South girls basketball star Amari DeBerry commits to UConn

Amari DeBerry has been a coveted women’s basketball Division I recruit since eighth grade.

Although the 6-foot-5 forward won’t graduate high school until 2021, the Williamsville South junior opted to make her college choice public Friday night. DeBerry announced on Twitter that she has accepted an offer to attend the University of Connecticut.

DeBerry, the two-time All-Western New York and two-time All-State first-team selection, picked UConn over offers from several other major programs, including Louisville, Notre Dame, Maryland, South Carolina and Baylor. She had offers from at least 15 programs.

“I think it’s just the way the players and coaches connect with each other and seeing how they respond to each other,” DeBerry said as to why she picked Connecticut. “The legendary players, the high school All-Americans coach (Geno) Auriemma has helped become better players … I feel he’s the type of coach who will push me to be the best player I can be.”

DeBerry, ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2021 by ESPN, averaged 16.8 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and four assists in helping the Billies win their sixth straight Section VI Class A-1 championship last season. She also was a member of the U.S. Under-16 women’s national team that participated in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Chile.

DeBerry is a unique talent. A five-star prospect, she has a solid all-around game although she towers over most of the competition in Western New York. Though she causes foes problems with her inside game, she also can bury the three. She increased her per-game averages in assists (from 1.3 to 4.0) and steals (2.5 to 4.0) from her freshman to her sophomore seasons.

DeBerry made an unofficial visit to Storrs, Conn., campus last weekend, and hung out with former UConn star Breanna Stewart. She also spent time with the team. She still took several days before giving her verbal commitment. She won’t be able to sign a letter of intent until her senior year.

“It was a hard decision,” DeBerry said. “I’ve become close with a lot of coaches during the recruiting process. I thanked them for showing interest in me.”

“Just the relationships she made with these coaches and the time she spent getting to know them. … she’s very appreciative of everything,” South coach Kristen Dolan said. “She just felt UConn was the right place.”

UConn has been keeping tabs of DeBerry since assistant coach Shea Ralph watched her play during an open gym at Williamsville South when she was an eighth-grader, DeBerry said. Assistants from the 11-time national championship program watched her play again as a sophomore.

Coach Auriemma and his staff got a closer look at DeBerry during the summer when she played with her AAU Team based out of Philadelphia in the Elite Youth Basketball League Nike Nationals in Chicago.

“I’m pretty set on my path,” she said. “I’m very excited to get better this season.”

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