From the pick-up games and workouts he has already taken part in with his new teammates, Terry Larrier expects to have to earn his playing time at UConn after sitting out the 2015-16 season.
"It’s a lot more competition here," Larrier said when he met the media for the first time Tuesday. "I think the guys may be a little better talent wise than some of the dudes at VCU."
While he will have to sit out after transferring, Larrier will be able to practice with the Huskies this season, which means the Huskies will be able to go up against a high-quality opponent daily in preparation for games. Larrier also benefits from getting to play against the players he hailed as more talented than his former teammates.
One player he is particularly eager to go up against is sophomore Daniel Hamilton, who earned Rookie of the Year honors in the American Athletic Conference last season, averaging 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Huskies.
"I think Daniel’s an NBA talent," Larrier said, "so just guarding a guy much like myself—length and the way we play, we play similar—that’s similar to guys in the league, so I’m just preparing myself for that."
Larrier, a 6-foot-8-inch wing from the Bronx, averaged 6.6 points and three rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game at VCU last season. He opted to transfer from the Atlantic-10 powerhouse after Shaka Smart left the Rams to become the head coach at Texas.
Smart was the reason Larrier originally chose VCU over UConn out of high school, when he was ranked No. 43 in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. UConn had the edge this time around, partly for the same reason: coaching.
"My relationship was closer with Shaka," Larrier said of his original recruitment. "This time around, it was between Maryland and UConn. My relationship with (UConn head coach Kevin Ollie) was a lot closer than (Maryland coach) Mark Turgeon. KO's a good coach. I like what he's done with the program. And the style of play, they way they play, I think it fits me. It fits me better. I think I can excel here."
Larrier has already looked to Rodney Purvis for advice about enduring a season on the sidelines. Purvis transferred to UConn from North Carolina State in 2013 and had to sit out the 2013-14 national championship season.
"He told me to stay focused," Larrier said. "There will be a lot of distractions during the school year, but stay focused, stay in the gym and I’ll be fine."
Larrier stressed his desire to be in the gym during this year off. He expected more from himself at VCU and hopes he improves by the time he makes his UConn debut.
Larrier wants to focus on his body, his strength and his skill set this year. On the court, consistency is key, he said.
"I learned that there’s going to be ups and downs," Larrier said. "You just gotta try to stay positive-minded and just roll with it. Sometimes you’re going to play good, sometimes you’re going to play bad. We have to try to find a level of consistency. That’s the biggest thing for me. I think my freshman year, I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been. So coming into 2016, when I get to play, I’m looking to be real consistent."