USA Today via Reuters.

Usually, when a player wants to transfer early, some of the very common thoughts that come to most are, why are they transferring? Did something go wrong between the coach and the player? Or are they “not loyal”?

People often miss out on seeing the positive side of transfers. After spending four years with the University of Connecticut Huskies, though she had another year in hand, Nika Muhl decided it was time to move out of NCAA basketball for the 2024 season and enter the WNBA. The Seattle Storm drafted the 23-year-old as the 14th overall pick this year.

In a recent interview before the Storm’s WNBA pre-season game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Muhl addressed the frequent transfers in the recent NCAA past with the emergence of NIL. Though Nika Muhl stayed loyal to the Huskies, her answer caught all attention since no one had expected that she would have thought of transferring once. The video of the same interaction was uploaded on YouTube on the ‘TJ Sports Queen’ channel.

Taking cognizance of her past, Muhl admitted that she wanted to transfer from UConn. Muhl said, “… I’m a very loyal person, and I’m not saying people that are transferring are not loyal people, or loyal players. You know, everybody’s got different experiences, everybody’s got different situations that they’re thrown into…”

With the recent NIL era, players transfer more frequently than they used to do previously. The major reasons for transfer are obviously a bad team atmosphere. But, at times the players find it difficult to adapt their natural game, and at other times they want to boost their NIL and also get a chance at the NCAA trophy.

Therefore, teams that have a good chance of winning usually land such players. Like what had happened with Hunter Dickinson when he chose to move to the Kansas Jayhawks from the Michigan Wolverines. Getting into prominent teams also sometimes helps with boosting the NIL.

Muhl further explained why she wanted to transfer, “Me personally, I was extremely blessed and just to be able to have amazing atmosphere around me at all times. Even through the bad times and the good times. And, have I thought about transferring? Hell yeah! You know you have a bad practice.

Có thể là hình ảnh về 2 người, mọi người đang chơi bóng rổ và văn bản

You have… you have a bad game, you know coach yells at you, you’re fighting with coach. And you’re just like I’m going to transfer… but I would never do it. You know and I feel like me staying even through the bad times and the good times um in one place and trying to you know accomplish that one thing that everybody has in mind that same goal.”

One of the most popular incidents involving Muhl and UConn head coach Geno Auriemma was when they were playing against the Butler Bulldogs in her freshman year 2020-21.

During the game, Muhl was trying her best to hold back tears as Auriemma yelled at her. Notably, Muhl could not pot her first 12 shots. Furthermore, Auriemma was always at loggerheads with the Croatia-born since her induction to UConn, but Auriemma appreciated her feistiness in the game.

Soon, Nika Muhl improved her game, stayed for four complete years with the Huskies, and won 2x Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

In the meantime, she even developed a better relationship with her coach. However, this time she was fighting to hold back her tears not because she got yelled at by Auriemma, but for another reason.

Auriemma tells Nika Muhl is drafted for a reason

Now that Muhl is prepping for her debut with the Seattle Storm, it will be exciting to see her performance. But, before she moved for the practice sessions, Muhl visited Auriemma’s office to thank him for being a pillar during her collegiate career. They exchanged a warm hug while they recalled a shooting memory of Muhl. But what caught everyone’s attention was when the coach asked her for the Storm’s schedule, so that he could watch her play.

However, Muhl with a little self-doubt said, “If I make the team.” Auriemma was surprised by her reaction and told her that it would just take one practice session to figure out what it needed for her to make it to the team and said, “They drafted you for a reason.” He further urged her to take the UConn culture into her new team.

This caught the 23-year-old player off guard. She teared up listening to the 11-time national champion coach’s encouraging words and thanked him for changing her life for the better. Muhl said, “I don’t think you’re aware of it. There’s never been a single person like you, and there never will be in the world. I hope you know how unique you are and how special you are.” Auriemma interrupted her and asked, “Are you describing yourself?” With the influence she had on the team, no one would forget her.

Now as Muhl steps into the WNBA, the audience might see her in the preseason games against the Los Angeles Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. The two games will take place on May 4 and May 7, respectively. Looking at her game, it will be easy for Noelle Quinn, head coach for the Seattle Storm, to gauge and decide whether she will play a central role this season.

We have witnessed Muhl’s change in her temperament towards the game. Perhaps sometimes, it is necessary to listen to harsh words from the coach to improve and become an important player, as she was for UConn.