With no game until Saturday it's been kind of quiet in UConn country, so we figured we'd check in on some former Huskies. If you like this make sure to take a trip over to Kevin Duffy's blog, where he regularly checks in on former Huskies and has done a ton of work on Andre Drummond this week.
Andre Drummond: A lottery pick by the Detroit Pistons in last year's NBA draft, his UConn career went by quickly and felt a bit incomplete. Drummond surprised everyone in August 2011 when he switched from enrolling in at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, a Central Massachusetts prep school and announced that he'd attend UConn. Drummond's presence on the team was as exciting as it was disruptive. Alex Oriakhi's playing time vanished (leading to his eventual transfer) and the Huskies never seemed to gel as a group. At the same time, Drummond's freakish athleticism stood out, albeit more so against lesser opponents. Regardless of the fact he never became a "polished" player at UConn, it was time for him to go after one year and he was the ninth pick in the NBA draft last year.
Recent numbers show that Drummond is taking the next step in the pros that he didn't make at UConn (making UConn fans wonder "what if", a common theme this season). Local fans might have caught his games against the Knicks or Celtics. He had 16 points and seven rebounds against Boston and it seemed like he was on the free throw line every other minute. Drummond's made massive strides since the start of the season and is not averaging 7.5 points per game and 7.4 rebounds. The Pistons lost their first eight games of the year, but in the sixth game of his career Drummond put up 22 points against the defending Western Conference champs Oklahoma City. Drummond also has scored double figures in his team's last three games. Drummond's athletic ability and nose for the rim (either rebounding or scoring) is blossoming and he's a legit candidate for rookie of the year. And as a nice kicker he has the highest Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of any teenager in NBA history.
Jeff Adrien: If Drummond had massive expectations, Ardien was the complete opposite -- he was never enough of a shooter to be an NBA small forward, nor was he big enough to be a power forward. He had a great four years as a Husky though, compiling a career double-double at UConn and leading UConn to the Final Four as a senior. Adrien wasn't expected to be an NBA player and seemed destined to play overseas.
But after various successful summer league programs and stints in the D-League, Adrien got his chance in the NBA twice with the Golden State Warriors, and was recently "called up" to play for Charlotte. Adrien has contributed. He's playing 15 minutes a game now and had a pair of decent games last weekend against Sacramento and Orlando (he scored nine points in each game). He's also averaging 4.7 rebounds a game since the new year.
Ray Allen: We don't need to recap Ray Allen's UConn career. The only thing missing was from it was a national title title. He's followed it up with a Hall-of-Fame NBA career with the Sonics, Bucks and Celtics, where he got the long awaited title as part of the "Big 3". Now, in his 16th season, the NBA's all-time leading three-point shooter has a new team -- he joined the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and is now part of Lebron James's quest for a second title.
Allen is 37 now, so he's slowed down a bit. He's only playing 25.5 mpg and scoring 11 ppg (far from his career average of 19.7), but he's an "all-star role player" on a team with three all stars. His success from here on out won't be about statistics, it will be about hitting big shots for the Heat in the post season.
Another one of the UConn greats, Butler carried the torch for the Huskies between the school's first and second national title. He managed to pick up a ring in the NBA, but not in the way he would have liked as he was injured but part of the roster when the Dallas Mavericks won their NBA title. (Ray Allen - Celtics, Richard Hamilton - Pistons, Scott Burrell - Bulls have also been on title teams).
Caron has another chance this year with what is currently the NBA's best team, the Clippers. Battling foot problems, he's playing 23 minutes a game and scoring 9.7 ppg (on a team full of scorers), which is below his 15.7 career average. Butler played with five different teams over 12 seasons in the NBA.
In my opinion, Gay was a slight underachiever in his UConn career. He was always a great player, but never dominated (his final collegiate game against George Mason in the Elite 8 is one example). Still, Gay was still an all-Big East Performer both his seasons.
Gay is earning 16.7 million dollar this year and performing on par with his career numbers (5.5+ rebounds a game, 2 assists, 17+ points a game), but on a stacked Memphis roster his value is questionable. He recently missed a couple games with "personal reasons", maybe due to him not wanting to be the subject of more trade rumors from the cash strapped Grizzles.
Titles in college and with the Pistons and what seemed like a border-line Hall of Fame career at one point are the headlines for this former UConn star. A pure scorer, he's averaged 17.3 points a game for his career, along with 3.4 assists. Hamilton has quietly scored 12.1 points a game (2.5 assists, 1.9 rebounds) for a Bulls team which many feel could be a title contender with a healthy Derrick Rose. I'll admit, I loved Hamilton at UConn but thought he'd be too frail to have such a long, productive NBA career. Glad he proved me wrong.
Stuck in NBA purgatory now in Charlotte, he's putting up 13 ppg, which is a big below his career number of 16.3. Gordon, a one-time sixth man of the year, is a likely trade candidate by the end of the year.
Speaking of NBA purgatory, Walker is having a break-out season for the Bobcats, scoring 17.9 points and adding nearly six assists per game. Kemba had to share time at the point in his rookie year, but now runs the show by himself. He's nursing a bit of a sore ankle now, but it didn't show on Monday when he dropped 35 on Houston (a career high), and then followed that up with a 10-assist effort against Sacramento. Many thought Kemba wasn't big enough to be an NBA player. They were wrong about that. Still, the Bobcats only have 10 wins this season, so if Kemba is going to be "Cardiac Kemba" again, he's gonna need to be traded or wait through some rough years.
Also in the pros:
Charlie Villanueva: He's on the Pistons, posting 7.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds, while playing limited minutes.
Hasheem Thabeet: Hasheem is on the Thunder, and unlike fellow Husky Jeremy Lamb, he's been able to avoid the D-league this season. Right now he's posting two rebounds a game in 10 minutes a night and adding 1.7 points -- it's a good fit for a guy who's had well-documented troubles adjusting to the NBA.
Emeka Okafor and AJ Price: Okafor (8.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg) and Price (8.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are both solid contributors for the Washington Wizards.
Marcus Williams: Right now he's in Spain with Euroleague's Unicaja, averaging 9.3 points a game, 3.5 assists a game, as the first guard off the bench.
Ater Majok: Majok was a member of Maccabi Tel Aviv but has not appeared in uniform for the club this season.