As we approach the beginning of the 2013-’14 basketball season, we’ll be doing an exhaustive preview: Player profiles, schedule evaluation, keys to the season, etc. (feel free to share your suggestions in the comments). We’re getting things started today with a look at the newcomers on this year’s team.
In addition to freshmen Amidah Brimah, Kentan Facey and Terrence Samuel, UConn added Lasan Kromah who will be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer from GW. Lasan has a special place in my heart because his transfer was actually the first story I posted for The UConn Blog. In said post I called him RJ Evans part II, but that is actually quite unfair (my first inaccurate statement! Awwww), Kromah averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in his time at GW and is apparently a very strong defender as well. At 6-foot-6 the versatile guard can really do a little bit of everything and will be asked to do so as a jack of all trades off the bench. He’s no stranger to the coaching staff either- UConn assistant Karl Hobbs was the head coach for his first two years at GW. His role is still undefined at the moment, and likely to evolve as the season progresses, but you should expect more from Lasan Kromah than what we got from RJ last year.
Kentan Facey is the highest rated recruit in this year’s class; he had offers from Memphis, Pitt, Louisville and UCLA before choosing UConn. The 4-star, 6-foot-9 forward was New York’s Gatorade Player of the Year and is expected to contribute immediately for the Huskies. He’s a high motor guy who can crash the boards and run the court as well. For what it's worth, phrases like "great length" and "tremendous upside" are frequently used to describe him. He was a UConn fan since moving to the states from Jamaica and was introduced to the program by watching fellow New Yorker Kemba Walker scorch through the Big East and NCAA tournaments in 2011. Unfortunately he does have some academic eligibility issues (it’s not what you think, apparently he’s a very good student, it’s about some of his HS credits transferring from Jamaica… seriously eff the NCAA) and we're still waiting out the NCAA "process" to find out if he’ll be able to play. Hopefully it doesn't turn into a Boatright 2011/12 situation, because we’ll need his rebounding this year to compete with the big boys. He has been practicing so once he is able to play at least he won’t be starting from square one. He and Terrence Samuel were Jim Calhoun’s last signees as head coach.
Terrence Samuel, a 6-foot-3 point guard, was actually AAU teammates with Facey. I already love this guy and I haven’t seen him play a second. Like his AAU teammate, Samuel also had his heart set on becoming a Husky after following the Kemba Walker saga (proof that winning ‘ships plays massive dividends beyond $$). The accounts I’ve read say he plays with a lot of heart, has great vision (former HS QB) and makes the people around him better. He’s probably a 4 year guy and at point guard that is awesome. Sitting behind Boatright, Napier and Calhoun, he'll be a solid contributor off the bench but probably won’t be asked to do too much with Kromah also in the mix at guard.
Amidah Brimah is a raw talent; at 6-foot-11 with long arms his role this year will be to bring the block parties back to Storrs. He has a limited offensive skillset, but if he can help out with the rebounding battle this year that would be wonderful. According to Kevin Ollie, he’s a very hard worker as evidenced by his appearance at the gym on the 4th of July. Thank goodness we aren’t in the South otherwise that would be considered a bad thing. He’s more of a project player, but certainly has an opportunity to contribute defensively as a freshman.
Our first, second and third greatest weakness last year was rebounding. Offensively we weren’t able to earn enough second chances, and we gave wayyyyy to many away to opponents. We needed some serious help on the rebounding front and it looks like we’ve added enough to make an impact on the win total. None of these guys were on the cover of SI in High School, or had briefcases full of cash offered to them by John Calipari, but Kevin Ollie and UConn are and always have been in the business of building teams. Mission accomplished KO. Also, I love you.