A family that bridges the U.S.-Great Britain divide
In one of the biggest decisions of Katie Lou Samuelson’s basketball career, she had a chance to follow the path of older sisters Bonnie and Karlie, but went her own way. While her sisters excelled under coach Tara VanDerveer at Stanford, Katie Lou suited up for Geno Auriemma and UConn. “I hated that people assumed I was going [to Stanford],” Katie Lou told Bleacher Report.
Despite competing on opposite coasts, the Samuelson sisters are likely one of the top sister acts in NCAA history, alongside families like the Mabreys and the Ogwumikes. Combined, the Samuelsons played in over 400 college games, including eight Final Fours, and each sister graduated in the top five in school history in 3-pointers made.
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After college, the sisters’ paths diverged, too, but they are all very supportive of one another. Bonnie has retired from basketball and is set to graduate from optometry school in 2020. Karlie played for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2018 and is now representing Great Britain—the Samuelsons’ mother is a citizen—in the FIBA EuroBasket tournament. And Katie Lou was drafted at No. 4 by the Chicago Sky, where she is now a rookie. Katie Lou told High Post Hoops that she would “definitely” watch her sister compete in EuroBasket, despite the time difference. “Whenever Karlie’s playing, I try to watch wherever she is,” she said. And despite Karlie playing for Los Angeles a season ago, Katie Lou insists that her big sister “is [now] a Sky fan all the way!”
Being the family’s first WNBA draft pick—and lottery pick!—isn’t something Katie Lou uses for bragging rights: “I would never brag about stuff like that, because we all had different situations coming up out of college.” But the sisters have always competed against each other, and even now, Katie Lou explained, “when we’re together, there’s always that competitiveness and shooting better than another.”
Here at High Post Hoops, we are all for competition, and if Katie Lou won’t brag about her accomplishments, we don’t mind doing it for her. Let’s take a look at the Samuelson sisters’ college careers and see how they stack up. The best result in each statistical category is highlighted in red (for Stanford) or blue (for UConn).
Looking at all of the blue in the table, Katie Lou seems to fit the common narrative of the youngest sibling becoming the best player. She started more times for the Huskies than her sisters did combined for the Cardinal, and she made the most of her many minutes on the court, averaging 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. However, Bonnie actually played in one more game in her career than Katie Lou, missing only five games in four seasons. Bonnie is also the only sister who shot better than 90 percent from the free throw line and averaged less than one turnover per game in her career.
Karlie takes the top spot in only one category, but it may be one of the categories the siblings value most: three-point shooting percentage. All are sharpshooters, but Karlie sank three-pointers at a rate of nearly 45 percent—almost 3 percentage points better than Katie Lou and almost 5 points better than Bonnie. Karlie also makes it clear that she had a hand in Katie Lou’s success, telling MVP Magazine, “[All three of us] were really competitive. That’s maybe why my baby sister ended up so good. I take credit for everything she’s done.”
The Samuelson sisters truly seem to buy in to the idea that one sister’s success is all of their success. On that note, it’s worth sharing their combined collegiate statistics, which are extremely impressive. They started 244 of 415 games, missing only 27 games in their 12 seasons. They played two minutes shy of 10,000 and scored 4,458 points (including 868 3-pointers!). They shot 46% from the field, 42% on 3-pointers, and 86% from the free throw line. Their combined assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.8 to 1, and they grabbed over 1,200 rebounds and 300 steals. Between them, they have one national title and eight Final Fours. They have even participated in training camps for two different countries’ senior national teams, the United States and Great Britain. It’s safe to say that not many families have that kind of resumé.
The days of the Samuelson kids shooting in the backyard are long gone, according to Katie Lou, but as adults, they don’t hesitate to head to the gym for shooting practice. It’s clear that the backyard competitions and gym workouts have paid off for all three—not only in creating well-rounded players on the court, but also in developing a close bond off the court.
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