For girls players in Jordan Brand Classic, UConn-Notre Dame rivalry is on the back burner

For girls players in Jordan Brand Classic, UConn-Notre Dame rivalry is on the back burner

Jordan Brand Classic

For girls players in Jordan Brand Classic, UConn-Notre Dame rivalry is on the back burner

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Napheesa Collier is an ALL-USA First Team selection (Photo: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)

Napheesa Collier is an ALL-USA First Team selection and one of three Connecticut signees playing in the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday. Notre Dame also has three signees in the game. (Photo: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — On Friday, Napheesa Collier, a forward from Incarnate Word Academy (Bel-Nor, Mo.) and Marina Mabrey, a guard from Manasquan, N.J., will play for the East team in the girls game at the Jordan Brand Classic. Next fall, Collier will be playing for Connecticut and Mabrey will be at Notre Dame, where her sister Michaela, will be a senior guard.

In the past five seasons, the national championship game has included either Connecticut or Notre Dame and the Huskies beat the Irish the past two seasons for the title. The question is whether the mutual loathing between the two is suspended until after the their respective recruits step on campus as freshmen.

“I already don’t like her so much,” Mabrey deadpans.

Actually, the two, having played for USA Basketball’s U18 team this past summer, are friends and Collier says that won’t change between the games’ three UConn signees and three Notre Dame signees.

“It changes on the court, but I don’t know off the court,” Collier said. “I think it is just competitiveness, because we’re all competitive people. So, it’s going to get tense on the court, but I think afterward, we’re still going to be friends.”

While Collier is on the East team, forwards Katie Lou Samuelson of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and De’Janae Boykin of Flowers (Springdale, Md.), the other two Connecticut signees, are on the West squad. Mabrey is joined on the East team by her Jordan Brand roommate and fellow Notre Dame signee Ali Patberg, a Columbus North (Columbus, Ind.) guard. The other Notre Dame signee is Arike Ogunbowale, a guard from Divine Savior Holy Angels (Milwaukee).

Mabrey said despite the competition between Connecticut and Notre Dame, the teams have a lot in common.

“I feel like you could switch the two and nobody would notice,” Mabrey said.

She chose Notre Dame over Baylor, Duke, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisville, Virginia, South Carolina and Miami.

“I was considering a couple of other places and  I was really having a hard time with it,” Mabrey said. “I was freaking out because they were pushing me to make decisions. One day, I was driving my car to the beach and I was thinking about it. I said, ‘I’m going to Notre Dame’ and I turned around and went home and started calling coaches. I just got this feeling. They weren’t like my No. 1 the whole time. It felt so much like at home, that I couldn’t turn it down.”

For Collier, the decision to go to Storrs, Conn., for college was more gradual.

“I didn’t have one defining moment, but after I went on my visit, I definitely knew,” Collier said. “It was more like a process, and on the last night of my visit (to UConn), I was talking with my parents and the next morning we were going to have breakfast with my coaches, and I told my parents I wanted to go there and the next morning, we told the coaches.”

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