Growing up in Spain, Sarah Strong’s first introduction to the game was from her mother, Allison Feaster. Feaster, a former standout at Harvard, was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks in ’98 with the fifth overall pick, went on to become an All-Star in ’04 and played overseas in France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Strong remembers going to her mom’s practices and watching her put in work on the hardwood, all while falling in love with the game herself. “She would hustle a lot,” Strong tells us over Zoom in May. “That was probably her main thing. Just energy on defense, hustle and [being] aggressive. She [was] a dawg.”

The game has always been a part of Strong’s life—she even suited up for the same club team as mom—but it wasn’t until she moved to the United States in fifth grade that she started taking her game to the next level given the level of competition.

“The talent level and skill level is a lot different here, so definitely it’s a little harder. I started getting results out of it, so I was like, OK, let me lock in,” she says. Off the court, Strong also had to deal with the transition that comes with moving from a different country, whether it was cultural adjustments—in Spain, she would watch a lot of American movies and was nervous about having to deal with bullies in school like what she saw in the films—or the language barrier. Strong, who speaks Spanish, initially struggled with reading comprehension in English.

She’s come a long way since then. A five-star recruit and the No. 1 ranked player in the ESPNW 100 for the class of 2024, Strong is an undeniable talent with an all-around game—at 6-2, she uses her strength and size to her advantage, whether it’s holding her own on the post, using her silky smooth handles to drive to the rim or relying on her acute court vision to dish out dimes to her teammates. The 2023-24 Gatorade North Carolina Girls Basketball Player of the Year averaged a double-double at Grace Christian School (NC) while also maintaining a 3.68 GPA.

Strong, who would watch highlights of Maya Moore—her favorite player—and Breanna Stewart, had always dreamt of going to UConn. And yet, when it came time to make her final decision, the final factor had nothing to do with location, she says, but rather, what she felt within. “It’s always been a dream school,” she says. “I just kind of felt it in my heart, and I talked to my family. I prayed about it.”

At UConn, Strong wants to elevate her game and get “accustomed to the college pace” and the level of physicality—from getting in shape to becoming more efficient and a consistent shooter. She’s set to join a Huskies squad that just lost standout Aaliyah Edwards to the 2024 WNBA Draft but will see the return of one of the most elite floor generals in college hoops, Paige Bueckers. The pairing already has fans in Storrs excited for the future. Strong is ready to bring that same energy.

“We’re just trying to win,” she says. “They haven’t won a championship in a while, so that’s the plan for the next four years. I’m just very excited to play with everybody and be coached by the coaching staff.”

Portraits by Luke Schlaifer.


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