UConn junior guard hopeful that hard work will result in more opportunities

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Guard play was a critical factor during UConn’s run to the program’s fourth national title last spring, with Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright leading the way and supplementary options such as Lasan Kromah and Terrence Samuel earning roles as well. One guard who didn’t see much playing time during the second half of the season was Omar Calhoun, who never seemed to be at full strength and his game suffered as a result.

In the spring of 2013 the junior guard from Brooklyn underwent surgery to correct impingements in both hips, with the rehab process taking away the valuable time during the summer that healthy players use to improve their game. As the season progresses Calhoun (3.8 ppg, 30.5% FG) went from starting to being out of the rotation, and for some players that would lead to the decision that they’re better off at another school.

However that wasn’t the case for Calhoun, who told Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant a couple weeks ago that transferring was never seriously considered. What Calhoun did consider, and ultimately do, was the need to work even harder to regain a spot in Kevin Ollie’s perimeter rotation.

“A lot of different thoughts come into your mind,” Calhoun said. “You could put the blame on a lot of different people. But as a growing young man, you have to see what you can do to make the most out of the situation that you’re in. I felt like I still have an opportunity here to do a lot of great things.”

Calhoun spent the summer on campus working on fundamentals, strength and flexibility. As September and the new academic year began, coaches have seen the results, a quicker, more explosive player, more sure of himself with the ball, with stronger legs to support his shot.

Even with the loss of Napier and Kromah the Huskies won’t lack for options on the perimeter with Boatright leading the way. UConn will add three talented pieces in freshman Daniel Hamilton, NC State transfer Rodney Purvis and junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr. Those players have received s decent amount of attention this offseason, but that doesn’t mean Samuel and Calhoun won’t factor into the equation themselves.

Samuel proved to be of great value to UConn down the stretch last season, especially on the defensive end of the floor, as his presence allowed Ollie to play three point guards at the same time in order to take advantage of their speed on both ends of the floor. And while Calhoun wasn’t a part of that rotation he’s skilled enough to change that in 2014-15.

And with a full summer to focus on his game as opposed to being concerned with rehab, the 6-foot-5 junior will begin practice in a much better situation than the one he was in last fall.