Tag: Connecticut Huskies

Chasson Randle, Gary Payton II
Associated Press

NBCSports.com’s Preseason All-Defensive Teams

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“Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

Whether or not you agree with the statement made by the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, there’s no denying the importance of defense when it comes to winning games. Teams can score as much as they want, but if they can’t get stops on the other end they’ll be in trouble. Ahead of the start of the 2015-16 season, we’ve put together our picks for the best defensive players in the country. Some will be shot blockers and others masters of the steal, and there will be a couple strong positional defenders as well.

Who’d we miss? Who should they replace? Feel free to leave your answers below.


G Kris Dunn, Providence
As a redshirt sophomore the 6-foot-4 Dunn averaged 2.7 steals per game, with his length and athleticism allowing the national Player of the Year candidate to make life difficult for opposing point guards. He can be a bit of a gambler at times, but overall he’s a very difficult matchup at a position where many point guards hover around the 6-foot mark.

G Ron Baker, Wichita State
If you don’t know Baker’s résumé by now, that’s on you. Baker is one of the nation’s top on-ball defenders, keeping his man out of the paint while also challenging scoring opportunities on the perimeter. As a junior Baker led the Shockers in both defensive rebounds (157) and blocked shots (27).

G Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Payton’s selection as Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was a controversial one, with many believing that Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should have been the choice. But neither that nor the fact that Oregon State relied on a matchup zone to mask its lack of depth should not overshadow the impact “The Mitten” had defensively as he led the Beavers in steals (95) and was second in blocks (39).

F Hassan Martin, Rhode Island
The 6-foot-7 Martin became just the second player in URI history to record 100 blocks or more in a season, tallying 103 (3.1 bpg). The Staten Island native is also a good rebounder (7.7 rpg), and his length and athleticism allow Martin to play “bigger” than his height in the paint.

C Amida Brimah, Connecticut
The 7-footer from Ghana led the nation in blocked shots a season ago, recording 121 which was good for an average of 3.46 rejections per game (second nationally). Having a rim protector the caliber of Brimah helps teams be more active on the perimeter, as they have a big man capable of cleaning up mistakes.

Kentucky's Tyler Ulis (Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis (Michael Chang/Getty Images)


G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
The 5-foot-9 Ulis is an absolute pest defensively, thanks to a combination of effort and quickness. Ulis played in a reserve role last season, which somewhat explains the average of just one steal per game. But defending isn’t all about impressive stats, and with Kentucky’s shot blockers Ulis can afford to be aggressive in defending the ball. We’re betting that his reputation grows in this area in 2015-16.

G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Virginia’s pack line defense doesn’t lend itself to eye-popping individual stats. But that shouldn’t be used as a reason to overlook what the fifth-year senior does on the defensive end of the floor. One of the top players in the country, the 6-foot-5 Brogdon was also named to the ACC’s All-Defensive Team in 2014-15.

G Rapheal Davis, Purdue
Last season the Boilermakers’ team leader was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, winning the honor despite finishing the year with eight blocks and 28 steals. He isn’t going to dominate those statistical areas, but that doesn’t mask his ability to make life difficult for whoever head coach Matt Painter asks him to guard (usually the opponent’s best perimeter player).

F Skylar Spencer, San Diego State
Spencer is the rim protector on one of the nation’s best defenses, averaging 2.5 blocks per game as a junior. The 6-foot-10 Spencer finished the year with an individual block percentage of 12.7 per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, a figure that ranked seventh nationally. Teams don’t get many chances to penetrate the SDSU defense, and once in the paint Spencer serves as quite the deterrent.

C Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso
Fernandez receiving his fourth year of eligibility was a big boost to a program expected to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament. Last season the 6-foot-10 center earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year honors, as he ranked 11th in the country with an average of 2.9 blocks per game and sixth in block percentage (13.0).

Also considered: Anthony Gill (Virginia), A.J. Hammons (Purdue), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Jameel McKay (Iowa State), A.J. West (Nevada)

VIDEO: UConn commit Alterique Gilbert’s summer highlights

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UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff have been productive on the recruiting trail in the Class of 2016, as they’ve reeled in commitments from three players considered by many to rate among the top 100 players in the class. One of those three is point guard Alterique Gilbert, a native of Georgia who spent the summer playing for the CP3 All-Stars alongside talented players such as elite power forward Harry Giles.

Gilbert, who’s joined in UConn’s 2016 recruiting class by forwards Juwan Durham and Mamadou Diarra (VCU transfer Terry Larrier will be eligible to play in 2016-17 as well), will be a key figure for a program that will at the very least lose grad student Sterling Gibbs and senior Omar Calhoun from its perimeter rotation at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

Above are Gilbert’s highlights from this summer, with Courtside Films putting together the video.

Four schools to host four-star small forward on official visits

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This upcoming school year 2016 forward Mario Kegler will be part of what is traditionally one of the top high school programs in the country, as he’ll complete his scholastic career at Oak Hill Academy playing alongside the likes of Harry Giles and Braxton Blackwell.

Wednesday Kegler’s official visit plans were reported by Courtney Cronin of the Clarion-Ledger, with his guardian stating that four schools are sure to host the four-star prospect.

The four schools named are Indiana, Arizona State, Maryland and Connecticut (Kegler also discussed the recruiting “press” currently being put on by Mississippi State). But while schools have been discussed there are no dates set for those visits, and in the story it’s also noted that Kegler may not make his college decision until the spring.

It should also be noted that prospects have five official visits to use, so it will be interesting to see which of Kegler’s other possible destinations land in that spot.

Video credit: Courtside Films