Jillian Huerter, younger sister of former Maryland star Kevin Huerter, carving own path for Rutgers women’s basketball

When Maryland women’s basketball welcomes Rutgers to College Park on Wednesday, some fans might recognize a familiar name on the Scarlet Knights’ side.

Jillian Huerter, a freshman shooting guard, once attended several games in Xfinity Center to watch older brother Kevin, the former Terps standout and current Sacramento Kings shooting guard, play with the men’s team. So taking the floor won’t unnerve Jillian — even if she is a little wary about the reception she might receive from fans.

“I feel like I would maybe get more boos. I’m not sure,” she said with a laugh. “Even if I’m wearing the other jersey, hopefully, they’re not too harsh.”

While the crowd’s reaction won’t be known until her name is announced during pregame introductions, Huerter’s impact with Rutgers (8-20, 2-13 Big Ten) is more pronounced. The 6-foot guard leads the team in both 3-pointers (48) and 3-point accuracy (36.9%) and is averaging 6.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in 28 games, including nine starts.

Huerter’s contributions to the Scarlet Knights have been immense, according to coach Coquese Washington.

“She’s knocking down two or three 3s per game consistently for us, which is something we desperately need,” she said. “We need scoring, we need somebody to stretch the floor for our drivers and for our post players, and she’s definitely doing that.”

Basketball seems to be almost a hereditary pursuit within the Huerter family in their hometown of Clifton Park, New York. Jillian’s father Thomas Sr. was a shooting guard at Siena, and one uncle, Jim, was a forward at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and two other uncles played basketball through high school. Oldest brother Thomas Jr., who is 26, followed his father’s footsteps to the Saints, Kevin, 25, averaged 12 points and converted 39% from 3-point range in two seasons at Maryland before getting drafted 19th overall by the Atlanta Hawks, and sister Meghan, 20, is a junior shooting guard at Albany.

Jillian, 19, said she loves being the youngest of the family.

“We’d go out into the driveway or go to the gym, and we’d play 2-on-2 games,” she said. “It was competitive, but we find competition in everything that we do.”

Thomas Huerter Sr. said his daughter’s competitive streak can be traced back to following her siblings to their athletic events.

“If it was spring, it was baseball. If it was winter, it was basketball. If it was fall, it was football,” he said. “So she was always going to their games just because our whole family would go.”

Steve Dagastino, a player development coach on the staff for USA Basketball’s Junior National Team, has been training Kevin, Meghan and Jillian Huerter for almost a decade. He said even at a young age, Jillian displayed a knack for knocking down perimeter shots.

“It’s funny because she reminds me of Kev so much with just the way that she moves, the way that she shoots,” he said. “And also, she’s never rattled, and those are big things that obviously helped her get to where she is now.”

In high school, Jillian Huerter guided her team to back-to-back New York sectional championships. She chose to play for Rutgers over Boston College, DePaul and Fairfield.

Asked if she was recruited by the Terps, Huerter replied, “Maryland’s a great basketball school. I think it’s just a little bit farther, and Rutgers is a little bit closer to home.”

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Huerter admitted that she did not enter her first year of college basketball with many preconceived notions about what she could contribute.

“I know that we have a lot of talent around here,” she said. “So just every day and every practice, we’ve been trying to get better.”

Huerter leads the offense with 4.6 3-point attempts per game. Washington said she would like to see that number increase.

“I tell her, ‘Jill, let me tell you when to stop shooting,’” she said. “Because of her high basketball IQ, she’s like, ‘Well, my teammate might have had a better opportunity.’ I’m like, ‘Jill, shoot the ball. Don’t pass up open shots.’”

Huerter said she continues to hone her defensive skills to become a more well-rounded contributor. Dagastino said he can envision her enjoying a similar career arc with the Scarlet Knights as her brother forged at Maryland.

“When he was at Maryland, he was a starter who was going to make 3s, who was going to be solid, who was going to play defense and make the right play, and I think that’s what she does,” he said. “She’s proven that she belongs in the Big Ten and that she can help a team win games.”

Huerter said she is looking forward to meeting the Terps, who won the first game, 67-59, on Feb. 6. In 25 minutes, she scored nine points on 3 of 7 shooting behind the 3-point line and grabbed three rebounds.

“Maryland’s a physical team,” she said. “They were really good rebounding against us. So I know that was a big factor for us in that game. It was definitely a different game from the ones we’ve played in the Big Ten because it was more physical.”

Thomas Huerter Sr. and wife Erin plan to attend their first game in College Park since Feb. 24, 2018, when Kevin and the Terps lost to Michigan in their home finale. He said the family continues to root for Maryland — except on Wednesday night.

“We’re now Rutgers fans,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we dislike Maryland. We just want Rutgers to win because our daughter is on the team. So it will be fun to relive walking into the building like we used to, which seems so long ago.”

Huerter said her family has a group chat where everyone wishes a member luck before playing a game. She said her brother did the same even when she competed against his alma mater.

“He was cheering for me even though I was playing his alma mater — or at least that’s what he says,” she quipped. “I definitely would have liked to get the upper hand on him and maybe do some light-hearted trash-talking.”

Rutgers at Maryland

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Stream: BTN+