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Tiger ties: Kaitlyn Chen transfers to UConn

Player in black and orange Princeton uniform dribbles ball up basketball court.
Chen taking the ball up the court against West Virginia in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonWBB/X.

After three years lighting up Jadwin Gym, senior guard and captain Kaitlyn Chen will be taking her talents to the Constitution State.

On Sunday, the star senior announced her commitment to use her final year of eligibility to play basketball at the University of Connecticut. Chen will play under legendary coach Geno Auriemma and alongside stars Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd, joining a UConn team that is fresh off a Final Four run in 2023-24. 


Receiving offers from top programs across the country, Chen had her pick of schools and left no stone unturned in the transfer process. 

“[She was] doing her homework about these programs and coaches and teams and watching a lot of games when she had time this season,” Head Coach Carla Berube told The Daily Princetonian. “We just talked through things and figured out what were the important things to this decision.”

Under Ivy League rules, graduate students are ineligible to play varsity sports, so Chen and other standout senior athletes with eligibility remaining are forced to head elsewhere for their final year of collegiate athletics.

This is a contrast to the regular motion of the transfer portal, where players have switched schools with increasing regularity in recent years.

“The grad year of Ivy League is so different than [for] normal student athletes going in the [transfer] portal where they want to leave their school,” Berube told the ‘Prince.’ “Kaitlyn, if she could have stayed here, she would have.” 

Chen has been one of the most decorated players to call Jadwin Gym home and her legacy will not quickly be forgotten. Over her three years playing at Princeton, the Tigers went 74–16, won three Ivy League titles and two March Madness games, and achieved national Top 25 rankings each year.


Individually, Chen has averaged 14.2 points per game over her career at Princeton, serving as the “floor general” for Carla Berube’s squad, while ranking in the top ten across all-time in numerous Princeton basketball statistics. Chen’s postseason accolades include three straight Ivy League Tournament Most Valuable Player awards, two straight First-Team All-Ivy awards, and a 2024 WBCA Honorable Mention All-America.

“Day in and day out, Kaitlyn competes, Kaitlyn works the hardest,” Berube added. “She’s showing our younger players how to represent our great [U]niversity, how to be a great teammate, how to be a great leader.”

As a guard who shines under bright lights, Chen will try to fill the shoes left by WNBA second-round draft pick Nika Mühl, a defensive mastermind who held Iowa great Caitlin Clark to just 21 points in the Final Four. 

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“[Kaitlyn] was not just a distributor; she’s also a good scorer as well as a great defender,” Berube added to the ‘Prince.’ “I think she can bring the same sort of presence, playing with a lot of fire.”

In Connecticut, Chen can expect similar coaching techniques that she has worked under in Jadwin. Berube, who has helped develop Chen into the powerhouse player she is, played under Auriemma in the mid-1990s and is rumored to be one of the top candidates for the UConn head coach job when Auriemma retires. Not surprisingly, Berube is glad Chen will be heading to her alma mater.

“Underneath it all, that was home to me,’ Berube said. “Three of the coaches were my coaches at that time, one of them was my teammate, another’s a good friend, so it’s a place that I trust and I’m really happy for her that she felt that way, that [UConn] was home for her.”

With the addition of Chen, UConn is expected to once again be one of the top teams in the country and to contend for a national title. Chen has grown to expect to bring Ivy trophies back to Old Nassau, and now her goal shifts beyond the Orange Bubble: to bring a national championship trophy to humble Storrs.

“She’s leaving as one of the greatest Princeton basketball players to ever don the orange and black,” Berube said. “I’m really proud of her and ecstatic for her year to come.”

Max Hines is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

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