It’s good to be the king. The Connecticut Huskies are basking in the glow of their triumphant 2013-14 NCAAB campaign, which saw them go 32-8 (23-15 ATS) and sweep the March Madness odds en route to the national title. It’s been a very good offseason for the Huskies, too; they managed to sign head coach Kevin Ollie to a long-term deal with a healthy raise, keeping him away from the prying hands of the NBA.
Things haven’t been quite as busy on the recruiting front. UConn went into the weekend with the No. 25-ranked Class of 2014 at Scout.com, getting just one major prospect to commit: small forward Daniel Hamilton, who still hasn’t signed his letter of intent as we go to press. But things picked up considerably for the Huskies on Monday when they got combo guard Jalen Adams to choose Storrs over the Kansas Jayhawks and Louisville Cardinals.
This is a fantastic development for the Huskies. Despite winning the National Championship, they were listed at 50-1 to repeat on Bovada’s March Madness futures market after losing their top two players to the NBA Draft: point guard Shabazz Napier (25.5 PER, now with the Miami Heat) and small forward DeAndre Daniels (20.0 PER, now with the Toronto Raptors). Now Connecticut has both those positions amply covered.
Adams might not reproduce Napier’s production right out of the box, but he’s certainly the right candidate to step into his shoes – Adams even hails from Roxbury, Mass., the same Boston neighborhood where Napier was born. Adams is the No. 26-ranked prospect at Rivals.com and No. 33 on the EPSN 100; he played AAU ball under Mass Rivals coach Vin Pastore, who calls Adams “a super athlete with great understanding of the game.” Ollie, of course, is a former Huskies and NBA point guard who should be able to get the most out of Adams next year.
The transition at small forward from Daniels to Hamilton should be a smooth one, as well. They’re reportedly good friends; both players are from Los Angeles and participated for the Belmont Shore summer camp in Long Beach under the watchful eye of Dinos Trigonis, who has worked with eventual NBA All-Stars like Russell Westbrook, John Wall and DeMar DeRozan. Trigonis is a big fan of Ollie and believes he’s the right guy for Hamilton.
“I think that [Hamilton’s] thing was a combination with him being comfortable with Ollie as a coach and mentor,” Trigonis told Rivals.com back in April, “and their track record of producing wing players.” That record includes yet another star-studded lineup of players, led by Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton. We’ll see if Daniel Hamilton can follow in their footsteps – like Adams, he’s a confident and aggressive scorer with defensive upside.
Son of Sam
The Huskies have two other freshmen coming to Storrs, and they’ve already signed their letters of intent: point guard Sam Cassell Jr. and power forward Rakim Lubin. But they’ll likely be depth players in 2014-15. However, N.C. State Wolfpack transfer Rodney Purvis could step into the lineup right away at shooting guard after sitting out last season. Purvis (11.0 PER in 2012-13) was up-and-down as a freshman, but he’s a former McDonald’s All-American with an all-around game who can play both guard positions and score from anywhere on the court.
Put all that talent around senior guard Ryan Boatright (17.0 PER) and sophomore center Amida Brimah (17.1 PER), and there’s no reason the Huskies can’t make yet another run at the Final Four next spring. As a betting pick at 50-1 on the March Madness lines, you’re getting a bargain this offseason – just like the Huskies got a bargain when they first signed Ollie to be their coach.