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.”