Jalen Adams

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

UConn’s eight newcomers already competing for playing time

Leave a comment

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The competition to earn playing time is already in high gear at UConn, where eight newcomers have joined the Huskies.

So far, it’s been just pickup games, limited workouts with coaches and on Thursday, their first media session.

But 6-foot-9 freshman forward Josh Carlton says everyone knows they have a chance at playing time and everyone is looking to impress.

The roster includes just two players who saw significant action during last year’s 16-17 campaign — guards Jalen Adams and Christian Vital.

Two others, Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert are back after sitting out most of the season with injuries.

There are four freshmen — forwards Carlton, Tyler Polley, Sidney Wilson and Isaiah Whaley. They join junior college transfers Eric Cobb and Kwintin Williams and graduate transfers Antwoine Anderson and David Onuorah.

Wilson, who transferred from St. John’s after summer school, is seeking an NCAA waiver to play this season.

UConn avoids 0-3 start with 65-62 win over Loyola Marymount

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
2 Comments

To get an idea of just how much of a disaster the UConn basketball team is right now, think about this: The Huskies landed a huge win on Thursday night when they found a way to hang on to be Loyola Marymount, 65-62, because it meant that they didn’t drop to 0-3 on the season.

The Huskies have already lost to Wagner and to Northeastern at home this season. Dropping a game to LMU, even if it was on the road, would likely have more or less ensured that this team was headed for the NIT, assuming they find a way to finish over .500.

Because that’s not a guarantee yet, either.

That’s how bad things have gotten for a program that has won four national titles in the last 18 years and two since Barack Obama took office.

The issues are plentiful.

Let’s start with their perimeter shooting, or lack thereof. UConn entered Thursday night shooting 27.5 percent from beyond the arc on the season, having shot 20 threes per game, and left LMU’s gym with another 6-for-23 night. Defenses know exactly how to play them: pack everyone inside 18 feet and let Rodney Purvis and Terry Larrier try to prove that they’re actually shooters.

The other major issue is that UConn’s bigs are not all that good. Amida Brimah blocks a ton of shots, but he’s a 7-footer that weighs less your average sportswriter and is a non-threat offensively if he’s not dunking the ball. Kentan Facey and Steve Enoch, UConn’s other two big men, aren’t much better offensively, but they are quite a bit worse defensively. In other words, the only way UConn is getting any offense generated is if their guards create it.

And their guards aren’t really creators. Jalen Adams hasn’t taken the step forward that we expected. Purvis is a scorer that hunts shots for himself. Larrier is a slasher. Alterique Gilbert, the latest McDonald’s All-American guard on the Husky roster, left Thursday’s game with a dislocated left shoulder that was painful enough that he couldn’t stand up on his own. It doesn’t seem all that likely that he’ll play in Maui, which starts on Monday.

This is simply not a very good basketball team right now.

And the most worrying part is that the Huskies don’t exactly have pieces that would make you believe a turnaround is coming.

It is going to be very interesting to see how they fare on the islands.

Diallo claims another MVP at Jordan Brand Classic but Briscoe wins the crowd

Leave a comment

NEW YORK – The 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic marked the end of a hectic few weeks for the top talent across high school basketball, as the West team topped the East, 118-116.

In a night that combined an unwavering pace with an abundance of jaw-dropping athleticism, here were the top stories:

Cheick Diallo adds another MVP to his trophy case

The Jordan Brand Classic was the cherry on top of a monster month for Diallo. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Centereach, N.Y., was named MVP of the East squad, pouring in 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Diallo was able to once again put his full offensive arsenal on display, showing a great touch around the bucket, as well as the ability to get out in transition.

The latest piece of hardware will have a spot next to the McDonald’s MVP Diallo won earlier in the month, also accompanied by a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Diallo was one of three remaining undeclared players in the Jordan game and is scheduled for an in-home visit with Chris Mullin and St. John’s on Saturday, who is competing with Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh for the coveted big man’s signature.

Welcome to the Isaiah Briscoe Show

With about five minutes remaining in the game, Briscoe, a New York product who went to high school in New Jersey, banged a three that was like a shot of adrenaline to the Brooklyn crowd. From then on, each time the ball found its way into Briscoe’s hands – which it did basically every possession – the walls of the Barclays Center were hit with an ear-splitting roar.

“That’s New York basketball,” Briscoe said when asked about the atmosphere. “Everywhere you go, every gym you play in, that’s New York basketball. They want to see people go at it. They want to see people compete.”

Briscoe, who is headed to Kentucky next season, repeatedly put himself in isolation situations, as he and LSU commit Antonio Blakeney traded one-on-one punches on several consecutive possessions. After shaking Blakeney with a particularly silky spin move and touching it off the glass, fans were fully invested in the Briscoe pageantry. Ultimately the one-man wrecking crew fell short, but Briscoe finished with 22 points after a sub-par first half and won over the crowd with a gladiator-like effort.

“I’m no stranger to a big crowd,” Briscoe said. “I feed off all of that, as you can see.”

The exodus of Wildcats out of the Bluegrass and toward the bright lights of the NBA has left Kentucky rather thin on the perimeter. Briscoe will be counted on to provide an immediate impact and it will be interesting to see how he meshes alongside point guard Tyler Ulis. Either way, it should be a nice problem to have for John Calipari.

Allonzo Trier gets buckets, basically whenever he wants

Trier collected MVP honors for the West squad, dropping in 28 points on 8-10 shooting. The 6-foot-4 guard from Henderson, Nev., shoved himself behind the wheel for Kevin Boyle’s team in the second half, willing his way into the paint and either converting at the rim or earning a trip to the charity stripe. With his quickness and athleticism, Trier is a migraine-inducing offensive weapon that is near impossible to guard one-on-one.

Setting up camp in Tucson, Ariz., next season, Trier will need to help patch up the offensive holes left behind by a slew of departed Wildcats. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley gone, and Stanley Johnson potentially joining them, Trier could easily become the focal point of Sean Miller’s offense in his inaugural campaign.

Brewster Academy sweeps Regional MVPs

Quickly finding the mold of a traditional all-star game, the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game turned into a 40-minute track meet that was played almost exclusively above the rim. Brewster Academy teammates Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Adams took center stage, reeling in MVPs for their respective teams.

“A lot of people don’t know Brewster Academy, so we were just talking about going out and putting Brewster on the map in a bigger way,” Mitchell said. “We just said to ourselves that we were going to go out and impact the game in different ways.”

The Louisville-bound Mitchell put together enough footage for his own Jordan Brand dunk highlight reel plus bonus features. The 6-foot-2 guard led all scorers with 30 points and nearly brought the house down in the first half after capping off a spin move with a thundering dunk.

Adams, an electric point guard who is committed to Kevin Ollie and UConn, put on a show of his own, scoring 27 points for the winning squad.

In-state power forward verbally commits to UConn

Leave a comment

As expected Saturday evening proved to be a good one for the UConn basketball program, as four-star power forward Steven Enoch decided to verbally commit to Kevin Ollie’s program while on his official visit. Enoch, who attends Norwalk HS in Norwalk, Connecticut and grew up a UConn fan, announced his decision via Twitter.

Enoch, a four-star prospect whose play during the summer sent his name shooting up recruiting rankings, is UConn’s second commitment in the Class of 2015. Guard Jalen Adams, a five-star prospect rated amongst the best point guards in the country, verbally committed to the reigning national champs in late-June.

UConn doesn’t have any seniors in their front court, with junior Phillip Nolan being the lone upperclassman, but there was room for additional talent and depth in the 2015 class. Adding Enoch, whose game has developed a great deal (and there’s room for even more growth), to the fold certainly helps in that regard and there’s room for even more talent provided Ollie and his staff enjoy more success on the recruiting trail.

Among the front court players UConn is still in the hunt for are forwards Chris Clarke and Derrick Jones, and center Diamond Stone.

Next season Enoch will join a front court that, in addition to Nolan, should include sophomores Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey and freshman Rakeem Lubin. The question to be answered now is whether or not UConn can successfully add another body (or two) to the equation.

Summer mixtape of future UConn guard Jalen Adams (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

UConn commit Jalen Adams had a good summer with Mass Rivals and at multiple high-level adidas camps like adidas Nations and adidas Unrivaled.

Here’s a mixtape of all of his big plays, courtesy of Ball is Life.

The 6-foot-1 guard is currently regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the class, according to Rivals.

Top 30 PG Jalen Adams commits to UConn

Leave a comment

Has Kevin Ollie landed the next Shabazz Napier?

In terms of on-court ability, it’s unfair to put Jalen Adams into the same conversation as the reigning NCAA tournament MOP and the guy that LeBron James more-or-less forced the Heat front office to draft as of yet.

But Adams, the No. 26 recruit in the country, according to Rivals.com, is a score-first point guard from Roxbury, Ma., the same town that produced Napier. And on Monday, Adams announced his commitment to play his college ball at UConn, the school where Napier won two national titles.

“I have officially decided that I will continue to pursue my dream at the University of Connecticut and play for Coach Kevin Ollie,” Adams tweeted.

RELATED: Jalen Adams preps for a big summer

This is a big get for Ollie, as Adams is one of the premier high school guards in the Northeast. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and given the way that Ollie has allowed Napier and Ryan Boatright to have freedom with the ball in their hands, Adams should be a great fit for the Huskies.

And he may have that clutch-gene that Napier had as well. As a sophomore, he hit a NEPSAC title-winning 25-footer at the buzzer.