STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Family. It is something Mississippi State women’s basketball head coach Vic Schaefer builds his program around, and it was that family environment that led Andra Espinoza-Hunter to select Hail State Hoops as her next basketball destination.
The Bulldogs added the 5-star guard to a Top-10 signing class after she decided to transfer from UConn earlier in the year.
She played seven games and averaged seven minutes per game with the Huskies, tallying 14 points and shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range.
“I decided to come to Mississippi State because of the close-knit family environment with the coaches, players, fans and everyone else I encountered while I was there,” Espinoza-Hunter said. “Seeing how the fans support the coaches and the team solidified that this was the place that I want to be. Being a Bulldog isn’t just a four-year commitment like most institutions, it’s a lifetime commitment. I’m so excited to be a part of this wonderful program! Go Dawgs!”
Espinoza-Hunter joins a signing class that includes 5-star 6-foot-5 post players Daphne White (Ocean Springs, Miss., - No. 48 overall, No. 7 position) and Jessika Carter (Waverly Hall, Ga. - No. 49 overall, No. 8 position), and 4-star wing Xaria Wiggins (No. 54 overall, No. 8 position) out of Virginia Beach, Va.
The 5-foot-11 Espinoza-Hunter was the No. 16 player in the 2017 class by ESPN and No. 10 according to Blue Star Media.
“Obviously, we’re ecstatic to add such an impact player and a highly-rated player like Andra to our program,” Schaefer said. “Anytime you get to add a Gatorade player of the year to your program, it’s exciting and certainly impactful.
“I think the thing that we’re impressed with the most is not just her game and her skillset, but she really fit in with our program and our players. Family is important to her, and she saw first-hand how important that is to us in our program, as well as our entire university. We’re looking forward to her coming here and impacting our program, much like this senior class has done over the course of their careers.”
She was the 2017 New York Gatorade Player of the Year, Co-Miss New York State Basketball and a finalist for Gatorade National Player of the Year after scoring 995 points as a senior to guide Ossining High School in Ossining, N.Y., to the state Class AA finals.
Espinoza-Hunter, who reached the 2,000-career point mark in her final prep season under Dan Ricci, averaged 36.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.1 apg and 3.0 spg in her high school career.
She returned to Ossining HS after playing the previous three years at Blair Academy in New Jersey, where she helped the program to league and state prep championships each season. She averaged 25.0 points and 8.0 rebounds as a junior, and 19.1 points and 6.5 rebounds her sophomore season.
Before journeying to Blair Academy, she started her career as a seventh grader at Ossining, tallying 478 points and 99 3-pointers in two seasons. She also helped her team to the 2013 state championship.
Espinoza-Hunter also has experience on the international level, averaging 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds for the United States U-16 national team that went 4-1 and won bronze at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.
She was also a candidate for the 2016 United States U-17 squad.