They grew up playing basketball together at the AAU level before spending another three years on the same teams at Mater Dei.
Katie Lou Samuelson then headed off to the University of Connecticut and won a national championship her freshman year in 2016. That same spring, Ally Rosenblum finished up her high school career by leading the Monarchs in scoring and rebounding while earning first-team all-Orange County honors by the OC Register. She then she took her skills to UCLA.
Samuelson and Rosenblum will step on the floor together for the first time since Mater Dei lost to St. Mary’s of Stockton in the CIF State Open Division championship game on March 28, 2015, only this time they’ll be opponents when the Bruins host Connecticut on Nov. 21 at Pauley Pavilion.
The Huskies played UCLA last March in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, but Rosenblum was out with an injury and did not play in the 86-71 loss.
“Ally and I have known each other for a long time, on the club teams and everything, so it is cool to see somebody that you kind of grew up with,” Samuelson told the New Haven Register. “I saw her develop with her being younger than me on my high school team and kind of seeing where we both ended up now.”
Samuelson was considered one of the top girls’ basketball players in the nation her senior year, breaking school records for scoring average in a season (29.2), points in a game (42) and 3-pointers made in a season (117).
At 6-foot-3, she was tall enough to dominate inside, but her outside shot was just as dangerous. Connecticut was unable to land Samuelson’s older sisters, Bonnie and Karlie, but the 10-time national champions attracted Katie Lou, who then helped the Huskies win their 11th national title her freshman year.
Samuelson continued to improve as a sophomore last season, averaging 20.2 points and making 119 3-pointers to earn first-team All-American. She set an NCAA record during the postseason by making 10-of-10 from 3-point range against South Florida in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Samuelson told the Harford Courant over the summer that she has a new perspective on the upcoming season.
“Last year, I had an opportunity to step up even as a sophomore,” Samuelson said. “I tried to do that as much as I could. But I still kind of felt like, looking back, I still got away with things, I still was just a sophomore. I feel more responsibility being a junior to kind of be consistently someone everyone can look to and count on. Even if I tried to do that last year, there were moments when I slipped or had certain days that people probably couldn’t count on me, even if it was practice or games. Being a junior, I really feel a responsibility to kind of stay up there and do whatever I can to make everyone else’s lives easier.”
Rosenblum hasn’t played on the same team as Samuelson in 2 1/2 years, but she figures she’s still the one keeping everyone loose.
“She is hilarious, she is the life of everything,” Rosenblum said. “She is always making everybody laugh.”
Don’t be surprised if there are a few giggles when the former Mater Dei teammates play on opposite teams on Nov. 21.