Nika Mühl, Geno Auriema Shared a Tearful Goodbye Before She Left for WNBA

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Nika Mühl was drafted by the Seattle Storm with the 14th overall pick in the 2024 WNBA draft. It was the culmination of years of hard work at UConn where she was the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year and helped the school make the Final Four three times. Before leaving campus to head to Seattle for training camp, Mühl stopped into Auriema's office to say goodbye. UConn smartly sent the video team along for the farewell.

Warning: Someone may be chopping onions nearby.

It's a great moment to capture on video. The warmth between the player and coach is palpable. From the moment Mühl walks in and calls him "Grampy" to Auriema immediately complimenting her shooting while busting her chops for not shooting that well when she played at UConn "back in the day." In this case "back in the day" means a couple weeks ago.

By the end of the video everyone was in tears. Presumably even the person recording the video. And then whoever edited it. And eventually everyone who watches it. Mühl and Auriema have been close since he recruited her in high school while she was in Croatia and it shows.

Mühl leaves UConn as the all-time assists leader. She joked about making the team, but Seattle will need her playmaking. Last season leading scorer Jewell Loyd led the WNBA in scoring, also had to lead the team in assists. Mühl could prove to be a capable backup behind newly signed Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Whatever happens with her WNBA career, she left an indelible mark at UConn and her old coach looks like he'd welcome her back anytime.

Stephen Douglas


Stephen Douglas is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in journalism and media since 2008, and now casts a wide net with coverage across all sports. Stephen spent more than a decade with The Big Lead and has previously written for Uproxx and The Sporting News. He has three children, two degrees and one now unverified Twitter account.