UConn has always, and will always be driven by guard play. The staple of a Husky team is ball-pressure defense in the backcourt that leads to fast break opportunities… both dependant upon athletic guards who are able to see the floor. The recent Calhoun era saw athletic guard after athletic guard (see: Brown, Taleik and Gordon, Ben and Price, AJ and Walker, Kemba) that came in and filled us with childlike glee as we watched them decimate other, wussier guards. The current backcourt duo of Bazz and Boat are so typically UConn that I will never be able to get enough of their swagger and ill advised jump shots early in the clock. I just love it.
Point is, guard play is essential to UConn basketball. Always has been, always will be. That being said, I want to take a look at a couple guards that are on the Husky radar for next year. So, what say you we dive in and examine four kids that could be running amok in our backcourt in the coming years, shall we?
Devin Watson (5-foot-10, 150 pounds, Oceanside, Calif.)
OK so the first person I have on this list has signed with Oregon State, so he will likely NOT be attending UConn. He was, however, offered a scholly by the school and, potentially more importantly, I coached against him once so I figured I’d give it a quick writeup. Maybe seeing the guys we target and lose will give us some insight into Husky strategy.
D-Wat is a quick little PG that wreaked havoc on my team when he was but a young pup sophomore. He might be the real deal, but I don’t think that scouts could get a real accurate look at him at the high school level because he played with a collegiate front line at San Diego basketball powerhouse Army-Navy Academy (his frontcourt measured 6’6", 6’9", and 7’1" when we played them). Being surrounded by size all but guaranteed he would be playing against soft zones with limited double team help. He slashed us to death.
Pros - lightning quick, sees the floor well, finishes well around the basket
Cons - strength
Reminds me of - a vague shadow of Ryan Boatright
Sam Cassell Jr. (6-foot-3, 175 pounds, JuCo Transfer)
Before you ask, yes, he IS related to this Sam Cassell. Cassell will be a JuCo transfer and will provide some age and experience to what has the potential to be a young and inexperienced backcourt when Shabazz departs for Bazzier pastures after this season. Cassell plays similar to his father, but in his own words, he shoots the three "a lot more than he did." That cracked me up for some reason…
One potential downfall of Cassell is that he has struggled academically in his past, much like his father. He originally committed to play at Maryland last year, but the NCAA ruled him academically ineligible. After sitting out the 2012 season to get his grades straight, he seems to be back on track. But let’s see what playing a full college basketball season this year at the JuCo level will do to his newfound academic success. I’m 100% in this kid’s corner… he comes from good stock.
Pros - has good size, has length, is athletic, and can shoot
Cons - potential academic issues, but seems to be on the right track
Reminds me of - his dad… but he REALLY REALLY looks like Denham Brown to me.. this Denham Brown (sidebar - do you see who is on the floor for us in this game?! Marcus, Denham, Rudy, Hilt, and Boone??? HOW DID WE NOT WIN A TITLE?!??!)
Daniel Hamilton (6-foot-6, 175 pounds, Los Angeles, Calif.)
Another Cali kid, and this one is legit. Hamilton comes from almost unprecedented stock. His older brother, Jordan, plays for the Denver Nuggets and was a stud at the University of Texas. Another older brother, Isaac, originally committed to UTEP but has burned a year of eligibility to play for UCLA next season. Daniel was not heavily recruited early on, but a growth spurt and increased coordination has landed him on the national radar as a 5-star recruit.
He doesn’t jump much (if you watch the above video, he doesn’t look like he is getting a ton of air for someone who is 6’6") and he lacks strength, but he has a ton of potential. He is athletic, can slash and attack the basket, has decent ball handling for someone his height, and can knock down the 20-23 footer. He screams raw ability, and with the benefit of D-I strength training and legitimate competition, he could be great.
Pros - length, confidence, pure scorer
Cons - strength, lack of jump-out-the-gym athleticism, sometimes a little too MUCH confidence
Reminds me of - hard for me to place my finger on this… part of me wants to say a much better shooting, but less athletic Tyreke Evans (from his Memphis days). Or like a shorter Tayshaun Prince from the Kentucky days. Now that I think of it, the Tayshaun comparison is probably better (too bad I can’t edit these things)
Jaquan Lyle (6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Huntington, W.V.)
Dude is good. I’ll just be straight up about it. This dude is seriously good. Lyle originally was recruited by Louisville but decommitted in September. My goodness, if we can swing this guy…
He is highly sought after. Indiana is pounding on his door and is all up in his biz, as are Memphis and Oregon. Maybe if I say pretty please, it will make a difference. I think I have been good this year…
Lyle is a big body guard with PG passing skills. He sees the floor well, has a college ready step-back jumper, and has the explosiveness to finish at the rim at the next level. He’s not the best catch-and-shoot player, but he doesn’t really need to be. He’s more of a creator than a createe, if that makes sense.
Pros - size, passing, finishing ability
Cons - if he goes somewhere else
Reminds me of - the Tyreke Evans comparison is WAY more apt here. Pretend I only put it here.
That’s it as far as guards go in this installment. Join us next time when I go after the bigs. Gotta know there is another 7-foot African somewhere in our recruiting target list...