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Canada’s Aaliyah Edwards carries ‘Mamba Mentality’ into freshman season at UConn

The Canadian freshman on the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has rocked purple and gold braids since Grade 8.

It’s a constant reminder of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s ‘Mamba Mentality.’

“My brother and I, we’re very big fans of his and just love the Lakers team also. So growing up, I would watch so many videos of him trying to do the same moves as him, do the fadeaway jump shot, biting my jersey, all that stuff,” Edwards stated.

Edwards, 19, is a forward entering her first year at UConn. The Kingston, Ont., native was recruited by famed head coach Geno Auriemma out of Crestwood Preparatory College and arrived in Storrs, Conn., in late July.

Edwards’ collegiate career, already delayed due to the pandemic, was postponed another two weeks Tuesday after a member of the UConn program tested positive for coronavirus. The earliest the Huskies can now play, if medically cleared, is Dec. 15 versus Butler.

But if Edwards is anything like Kobe, she’ll stay prepared for whenever the moment is that she can make her debut.

“I just love his Mamba Mentality because there’s so much focus on the game and grinding in the gym. But what’s most important, I’ve learned over the years, is the significance of your mental competitiveness, because you can get so distracted and it will turn your whole game off for the next three quarters. It’s that capability of saying, ‘Oh, I missed the layup.’ But that bounce back to next-play mentality is really what’s important,” Edwards stated.

Edwards is part of a group of six freshmen at UConn, a young team for the storied program. That should give her plenty of playing time to shine, and perhaps make an even greater push toward the Canadian Olympic roster in 2021.

Thomaidis says she’s looking for Edwards to continue developing overall consistency, specifically on the defensive end, in her first campaign with the Huskies.

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