UConn First Night Basketball

Middletown High alum Saylor Poffenbarger is transferring to Arkansas, but she can’t play with the Razorbacks until next season.

Saylor Poffenbarger graduated from Middletown High in the middle of last school year to get started on her college career at Connecticut in 2021. Now, not a year later, she’s leaving UConn early, too.

Poffenbarger, a freshman guard on the perennially powerful Huskies, will transfer from the UConn women’s basketball program, head coach Geno Auriemma announced Monday.

“After talking to my family, I decided it’s in my best interest to enter my name into the transfer portal,” Poffenbarger said in a release on UConn’s website Monday. “I’m grateful for my teammates, coaches, support staff and the fans for welcoming me to Storrs, and I wish them the best.”

Poffenbarger will remain at UConn to finish the semester, but she’ll no longer be on the basketball team, according to Amy Poffenbarger, Saylor’s mother. Poffenbarger will be able to transfer in January to a different school. Though she would be able to practice with her new squad, she can’t play in games for that institution’s basketball team until next fall.

Wherever she decides to go next, she will be considered a redshirt freshman and won’t lose a year of eligibility.

Amy Poffenbarger said Monday that her daughter’s decision wasn’t based solely on basketball, although it appeared Saylor might have a tough time earning significant minutes on Auriemma’s typically deep roster. After being in Storrs, Connecticut, for about 11 months, she got a full picture of the university and decided it wasn’t completely for her.

“It’s been a conversation, and it’s not all basketball,” Amy Poffenbarger said regarding Saylor’s decision. “The academic [side] wasn’t super-engaging, there wasn’t much to the campus life, and there wasn’t the ability to get out and meet a lot of people. Unfortunately that part of college life ... that part wasn’t happening for her.”

Saylor informed her parents Monday. Amy said she and her husband, Bill, were proud that she’d taken all factors into consideration and figured it out on her own.

“It was just the fact that the whole package was not the right fit for her,” said the mother, who coached Saylor at Middletown High. “Unfortunately, that’s what happens sometimes.”

A class of 2025 signee, Poffenbarger enrolled at UConn in January. She played in 12 games last season, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds in 32 minutes of action. That experience did not count against her eligibility.

On Sunday, when the Huskies opened the 2021-22 season with a 95-80 win over Arkansas, Poffenbarger did not play.

A two-time News-Post Player of the Year, Poffenbarger averaged 21.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists during her junior year, when she led the Knights to the state semifinals. But the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the final two rounds of the tournament.

Then, once it became clear that her senior season at Middletown would also be affected by the pandemic and the NCAA granted all 2020-21 winter athletes an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19, she opted to graduate early and head off to join the 11-time national champion Huskies.

Amy Poffenbarger said she was confident Saylor would eventually work herself into a decent role in Auriemma’s rotation, but there was much more at play.

“Saylor is a great person who has a lot of potential,” Auriemma said in the release. “Wherever she goes, she’ll be able to reach her goals and benefit her future home. We wish Saylor and her family the best as she continues her career.”

Joshua R. Smith is the News-Post sports editor. He writes stories and columns about sports, life and fatherhood. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaR_Smith.

(11) comments

DickD

I don't see Saylor going to Arkansas. If she has a Godmother that is a coach there, she wouldn't need to put up her name for all to consider as a transfer. Besides, we know Maryland U. wanted her very much and they are in the ACC. UConn is in the Big East and is not scheduled to play Maryland U. in women's basketball.

HappySeller2014

Going from UCONN to Arkansas like going from the Baltimore Orioles down to Bowie Baysox. Women's basketball futures are started in the ACC or BIG10, not SEC...except for South Carolina (and at a long time ago, Tennessee).

Prefer to be a big fish in a little pond or one of many fishes in a big sea? Riding the pine stinks, but all the five star hot shots arriving from HS to play Alabama football realize their place in the pecking order and need to wait their turn. And you only get better playing against those who are better than you.

But, as much as I have heard Saylor loved UCONN since she was a toddler, this was probably just as much about Storrs, the locale. And long plane flights everywhere. Anyone heard what UCONN is known for academically anyways? They sure have a terrible football program, known as "UCAN'T."

Very tough move for Saylor I bet. I wish her the best as she tests the waters elsewhere.

threecents

Arkansas went 24-8 in 2019-2020. Definitely not up there with UConn (29 - 3), but still very good and a reasonable choice to transfer to, assuming they they have a spot for her.

TrekMan

It's all about playing time, because once you're a star in HS, you want that to carry on in college. Ego's are a hard thing to quell too. Riding the pine after such a great HS career is not fun and that takes the overall college experience away because you're bummed out. It happened to a lot of us who played Frederick county sports and college sports over the years too. Hopefully she finds a school she can star at and that needs her talents. Good luck Saylor. 👍

TomWheatley

I remember my parents saying how a choice of college is critical and not just because of the choice of major. It is also possible one would stay in the area with a job, a significant other, or both. Sounds like UConn came up short in several areas and my congratulations for her maturity in seeing that soon enough to make the change.

DickD

I too wish Saylor good luck and hope she goes to the University of Maryland. Hopefully, she has already contacted them and had discussions. If I were her, I would! We all miss you, Saylor and would love to go to home games at U. of Maryland, with you playing and making a big difference for them.

corgikid

I hope she considers Maryland. But I wouldn't be surprised if she does end up on a Big Ten team, one where she would get significant playing time. Also, UVA is not a great women's program, but she could help it become one, and it is a very good school and is closer to home. Best of luck to her wherever she goes. I am sure she will have lots of options.

threecents

Interesting that the article mentions she did not play in the season opener against Arkansas, which features Frederick's other super-successful woman's basketball player, Makayla Daniels. FNP should have asked if that was a factor in the transfer decision.

enyac

I'm sure not playing may have been a factor, but it's only one game. I looked at the box score for the UCONN vs. Arkansas game, prior to the transfer news coming out and saw Daniels got plenty of playing time but Poffenbarger got none. UCONN, as they alway are, is deep.

As stated in the article, there could be other reasons. Storrs Connecticut isn't really a great campus or town. For some, it may be great, but I could see it not being ideal for a lot.

WIsh the young lady luck. Would love to see her in College Park, but will root for her wherever she lands.

threecents

I think they were Frederick co-MVPs one year. It will be awesome if they eventually make it to the WNBA.

blossombutterfly2

Chances are she’s going to transfer to Arkansas, Her godmother is an assistant coach there.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!