Princeton’s Kaitlyn Chen on choosing UConn for grad transfer season

Kaitlyn Chen is University of Connecticut-bound. (Kaitlyn Chen Instagram page)

Next week, Kaitlyn Chen will graduate from Princeton University as one of the most decorated basketball players in the history of Old Nassau.

The senior point guard and former Ivy League Player of the Year recently announced she will enroll next fall at the University of Connecticut to play for the legendary Geno Auriemma as a graduate transfer.

Chen told Ivy Hoops Online she will pursue a master’s degree in sports management at UConn.

The news Chen will move to Storrs ended weeks of speculation as to where the talented playmaker would land for her final year of college hoops eligibility.  Many followers of women’s college basketball assumed Chen would return home to California, perhaps choosing to play at Stanford, USC or UCLA.  

“Yes, I did seriously consider UCLA,” Chen told Ivy Hoops Online.  “Since I only have one more year left, I felt like I could manage being away from home for just a little while longer.”  

Chen based her choice on two factors.  First, her visit to Storrs went very well. 

“I chose UConn because I enjoyed my visit, and I really liked the people there, both players and coaches,” Chen said.

The two-time first-team All-Ivy guard never visited any of the California schools.

The second factor had to do with the influence of coaches, present and future.  Chen’s current coach, Carla Berube, played her collegiate career at UConn where she won a national championship in 1995, the first in program history.  Berube honed her skills under the tutelage of Chen’s future coach, Auriemma, and keeps in close contact with her former mentor.

Chen confirmed that Berube influenced her decision. 

“Yes, coach Berube was a great person to talk to throughout the whole process,” Chen said.

But the prospect of playing for one of the legends in coaching also played a role in Chen’s decision.  

“I am extremely excited to be able to play under coach Auriemma,” Chen said.  “Coach Berube always talks about how much she has learned from him, so I am looking forward to doing the same.”  

With the retirement of Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, Auriemma almost certainly will break the all-time record for wins as a college basketball coach next season, and Chen now has a chance to be a part of making that history.  With 1,213 career coaching wins already under his belt, Auriemma needs only four more triumphs to surpass VanDerveer’s record.  

Chen will also have a chance to play for a national championship-caliber team as a Husky.  Last season, UConn advanced to the Final Four before falling to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a nail-biter, 71-69. 

In addition to Chen, the Huskies return All-America First Team guard Paige Bueckers to a loaded squad for the 2024-25 campaign.  Along with USC, the Huskies should be one of the favorites to cut down the nets at March Madness next year.

For Princeton fans, it will seem strange to see Chen donning navy blue in lieu of orange and black.  However, even if the Huskies win a national championship with Chen, the three-time Ivy League Tournament MVP will always be a Tiger.

“I am and always will be grateful for Princeton women’s basketball, not just because of all the success we had on the court, but more importantly because of the people I have met,” Chen said.  “I could not ask for a better coaching staff for my four years here at Princeton.”

And how would Chen react if the Tigers should end up playing UConn next season in the NCAA Tournament? 

“I have not really thought about that, but it would definitely be really weird,” Chen said.