Will hyped Baylor freshmen go from local rivals to perfect pair?

— -- WACO, Texas -- Lauren Cox learned very quickly that Natalie Chou has a voracious appetite, will sing along to anything that comes on the radio and won't put a skateboard down until she has learned how to skate.

Before they became roommates at Baylor this summer, Cox and Chou mostly knew each other as highly competitive, decorated rivals in Dallas.

"It was always us two, me against Lauren in seventh and eighth grades," Chou said. "And then in high school, we were in the same district so we would play against each other at least two times. That would always be a big game."

Cox and Chou, ranked the No. 1 and No. 8 recruits in the country by ESPN, will play in many more massive games for the next four years as teammates. The prized freshmen, along with No. 40 prospect Calveion "Juicy" Landrum, take their first road trip on Thursday, and it will surely will be one they won't forget.

No. 2 Baylor visits No. 3 UConn with the Huskies looking to extend their 76-game winning streak with a victory in Storrs. The Huskies (1-0) will be Baylor's second top-10 opponent this week after the Bears (2-0) beat ninth-ranked UCLA at home, 84-70.

Usually, UConn has the star-studded recruiting class. But Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey might have her best crop of freshmen in her 17 seasons at Waco, and that's saying a lot.

While Cox and Chou had been teammates once before on the 2014 USA U17 World Championship team -- they helped USA go 7-0 and bonded half a world away in the Czech Republic -- the two never really considered playing together at the collegiate level.

At least not until Mulkey had the two in her office for a visit at Baylor.

Mulkey made a detailed, eye-opening pitch of seamless pick-and-rolls, and she compared the players to a Green and Gold version of John Stockton and Karl Malone. The coach also talked about the 6-foot-1 Chou's perimeter shooting, passing and versatility to play three positions -- and how that would go well with the 6-foot-4 Cox's stellar post game.

Apart, the two would be just fine wherever they went. Together, however, Cox and Chou could be a championship-caliber combination in the future.

"When I recruited them, I talked about 'together,'" Mulkey said. "The combination of a post player and a perimeter player and what they could mean to each other.

"Their personalities are similar in that they are very basketball savvy. They grew up in homes where their parents are very involved in their careers, and now they can go to the next level and do it together."

Cox stunned Mulkey by committing as she posed for a photo shoot in a Baylor uniform on her official visit, and Chou signed two weeks later.

"(Mulkey's pitch about teaming up) was eye-opening," Chou said. "She put everything into reality. Lauren is like the best post power forward, and I am a really good shooter, so having her would help me a lot, and we know each other's games so well so it would be great."

The two McDonald's All-Americans joined Landrum to give Mulkey what's considered the best recruiting class in the country by some and the second-best class? according to ESPN. All three have deep basketball roots, too. Chou's mother, Quanli Li, played professional basketball in China. Cox's parents, Dennis and Brenda, played college basketball, and Landrum's sister, Porsha Roberts, plays professionally.

How much Mulkey will play her freshmen remains to be seen. Cox logged just four minutes and missed all four of her shots against UCLA as Mulkey relied on an impressive frontcourt with the likes of preseason All-American forward Nina Davis and Kalani Brown. Brown had 25 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocks against the Bruins.

Chou and Landrum play behind a veteran backcourt of Alexis Jones, Alexis Prince and Kristy Wallace. Chou logged 12 minutes and went scoreless, while Landrum did not play against UCLA.

Of course, the freshmen trio came to Baylor knowing they would try to support a Bears squad that returned four starters from a 36-2 team last season.

"I am really hard on myself, so I do have high expectations for myself," said Cox, who is Baylor's first No. 1 recruit in the country since Brittney Griner in 2009. "If I do want to have that playing time and contribute to the team, I will have to work hard because we have really good returning posts on the team."

In Baylor's first non-exhibition game of the season, the three freshmen saw extended playing time in a 118-43 blowout over Houston Baptist. Chou led the freshmen with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block, while Cox had 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Landrum added 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 points, 2 steals and 1 block.

Mulkey hopes her freshmen will wreak havoc on opponents in the future. For now, she wants them to find enough harmony on the court to be the pieces that make this Baylor juggernaut a championship team.

The three Texas girls haven't come up with a nickname for their class, but their goal and the team's motto is clear and catchy: "Destination Dallas." Baylor hopes to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2012, when the Bears went 40-0 and won the national championship.

Once local rivals, Cox and Chou would love nothing more than to come home and compete for a championship together.

"From over the years, we would know how each other play, and we knew each other's strengths and what we liked to do," Chou said. "So having that connection already and history really, I think, helps.

"We have a lot of Dallas girls on this team. So we feel like we would be playing in front of our family, and our goal is to win the national championship."