I have to admit I had the grandest visions for Kentan Facey in his freshman year. I saw a young Emeka Okafor-lite, getting in there as a freshman, being an impact rebounder, and showing the instincts to be an effective low-post defender. It has been mentioned over and over, but this guy won the Gatorade Player of the Year in New York-- that comes with some expectations.
Instead Kentan Facey barely saw playing time across his freshman season, averaging only five minutes per game with the bulk of those minutes coming during the end of comfortable UConn wins. He appeared to be a capable player in his short time on the court-- yet we never saw much of him in minutes that mattered. Given UConn's difficulties winning the rebounding battle-- especially early in the season-- it was perplexing for many that he didn't get more of a chance to prove his worth.
This year, Facey is slated to start at the 4 following the departure of DeAndre Daniels. But Kevin Ollie isn't scared to use small lineups and has also stated that Phil Nolan could slide into the power forward role if necessary. The best players will play, so at the end of the day Facey needs to prove that he is one of the 7 or 8 best basketball players on this team, which will be a challenge given the talent on the roster. Furthermore, freshman Rakim Lubin has the opportunity to steal minutes if he can effectively use his strength to be an enforcer down low.
Watch his high-school highlights, or check out his reel from last year, Facey is clearly a talented young player. But how much can we really ask of him in his first season with any sort of role?
For starters, Facey has been productive when given the opportunity. The only problem is that those opportunities have mostly come in garbage time. He is off to a promising start this year in the pre-season, with 9 rebounds in 18 minutes against SCSU. Facey spent all summer at UConn, working out to add muscle to his frame so he can attack the boards and hold his position down low.
Bottom line I think Facey will contribute this year, but with how often he may be subbed out for three-guard lineups and Rakim Lubin/Phil Nolan, I don't think Kevin Ollie will be asking too much of the sophomore this year. Facey needs to be a solid complementary player for UConn to be successful, and he should be able to meet that expectation. It would be nice if the Huskies could get more out of their big men this year, but it will need to be a group effort if they do.