St. John’s guard Azzi Fudd, one of the D.C. area’s most celebrated high school basketball players in recent years, ended a long and much-discussed recruitment Wednesday morning when she committed to the University of Connecticut.

The two-time All-Met Player of the Year chose the Huskies over Maryland, Louisville and UCLA, announcing her decision on ESPN’s Instagram account. Hours later, Fudd signed her national letter-of-intent in front of friends and family at District Sports Center, a training facility in Alexandria.

“I decided a while ago, but I didn’t say anything to anyone,” Fudd said. “I wanted to let [the decision] sit, to make sure it felt good. And the longer I kept it inside, the better I felt about it.”

Long regarded as the top recruit in the Class of 2021, Fudd has generated frantic buzz in local basketball circles since she was in middle school. She famously earned her first scholarship offer, from Maryland, when she was in the sixth grade.

At St. John’s, she consistently delivered on that promise, leading the Cadets to two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships, three D.C. State Athletic Association championships and a finals appearance at the Geico Nationals. She earned All-Met Player of the Year honors as a freshman and as a sophomore.

At the end of her sophomore season, Fudd became the first local player and first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award. Since that coronation, her rise has been stunted by two major hurdles: injury and the coronavirus pandemic.

In the spring after her sophomore year, Fudd tore her ACL and MCL while playing in a USA basketball event in Colorado. She returned to the court eight months later, missing the first half of her junior season. Growing stronger each week back, Fudd led a young Cadets team to another city title and earned first-team All-Met honors.

What should have been a final victory lap around the local basketball circuit in her senior season has been put on pause. In March, Fudd said that she was in the middle of conducting home visits with select programs when the pandemic shut down basketball and its recruiting cycle. Still not feeling 100 percent recovered from her injury, she hoped to take the time off to heal, improve her game and arrive at a college decision.

With a proposed high school season approaching, the senior chose Wednesday — national signing day and her 18th birthday — to make her decision public. After officially signing her letter-of-intent Wednesday night, the senior posed for pictures with one group after another, each one bringing up different basketball memories and shared moments.

“Today has been so much better than what I thought it would be,” Fudd said. “Everyone here has played a role in getting me to this point. I mean, my third grade teacher is here. That’s special.”

While Fudd has kept much of her recruitment process under wraps, her choice is hardly surprising. This is the fourth time in the past five years that U-Conn., winner of 11 NCAA championships, has landed the No. 1 recruit in ESPN’s rankings.

“I knew that the staff there would be able to help me reach my fullest potential as a player,” Fudd said. “They can get me ready for the next level and help me achieve everything I want to achieve.”

Fudd said she has admired U-Conn.’s program from afar since she was little. Just the fact that Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma came to see her work out in the fall of her freshman year was enough of an honor. To become the first local player to sign with the Huskies since 2015 feels more surreal.

“Just looking back on my life and what it’s taken to get me here, it’s just a weird feeling,” she said. “It’s weird that it’s official, and it’s weird that I’m going to actually go to U-Conn. It’s hard to believe, but I can’t wait.”

More notable basketball news from National Signing Day:

DeMatha guard Jordan Hawkins signed with U-Conn.

Douglass guard Mike Woods signed with Navy

Douglass forward Abdou Samb signed with Rhode Island.

Episcopal guard Darius Johnson signed with Central Florida.

Maret forward Quincy Allen signed with Colorado.

New Hope Academy forward Maria Gakdeng signed with Boston College.

Paul VI forward Tyler Coleman signed with Towson.

Paul VI guard Lee Volker signed with Duke.

Sidwell Friends guard Ryan Cornish signed with Dartmouth

St. Andrew’s forward T.J. Gadsen signed with George Mason

St. Andrew’s forward Benny Williams signed with Syracuse

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