With three open scholarships for the upcoming season, Kevin Ollie and the UConn men’s team will welcome a European recruit later this week for an official visit. Davide Moretti, a 6-foot-3-inch point guard from Italy, will visit UConn and three other schools on official visits with the hopes of playing this coming season.
According to Evan Daniels, Moretti will come to Storrs later this week after wrapping up his first official visit at Indiana Wednesday. Moretti will also visit Texas Tech and Utah.
The 19-year-old Moretti has experience representing Italy at the FIBA u18 and u20 European Championships and currently plays for the Italian team Treviso, where he averaged 12.7 points and 2.2 assists per game, shooting 37.1 percent from the 3-point line.
Throughout its rich basketball history, UConn has had success finding and developing European players like Moretti, although most played for former head coach Jim Calhoun. In recent years, Calhoun and Ollie have had success with players from Germany, with Enosch Wolf, Niels Giffey and Leon Tolksdorf all suiting up for the Huskies earlier this decade.
Wolf would later leave the program due to disciplinary reasons and Tolksdorf transferred, but Giffey developed into an instrumental player in his time at UConn, winning two national championships.
Giffey emerged as a prototypical “3 and D” player during UConn’s 2014 title run under Ollie. With his athleticism and 6-foot-7 frame, Giffey was able to guard multiple positions while shooting over 48 percent from the 3-point line and 54 percent from the field, serving as a solid complement to Shabazz Napier. He was also one of the team’s best rebounders.
Prior to the influx of German recruits, Calhoun had success in Israel, signing two players that would both leave their mark on the program. While not technically in Europe, the paths of the Nadav Henefeld and Doron Sheffer from Israel to the United States are similar to Moretti’s, with both playing professional basketball in their home country before coming stateside.
Henefeld played just one season in Storrs—the 1989-90 “Dream Season”—but certainly made it count. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game en route to earning Big East Rookie of the Year honors and setting the NCAA freshman steals record with 138 in a season. He was selected to the Huskies’ all-century team based on the impact from this season alone.
Sheffer spent three seasons at UConn, scoring over 1,329 points and 529 assists and averaging 16 points and 6.1 assists per game in his final season with the Huskies. Sheffer, whose 6-foot-5 frame was similar to that of Moretti, played alongside Ray Allen and Ollie and was an integral part in helping the Huskies win three-straight Big East regular season titles from 1994-96.
Following their time at UConn, Sheffer and Henefeld both enjoyed successful pro basketball careers back in their home country, primarily with Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.
While it’s far from a definite to expect numbers like Sheffer and Henefeld had from Moretti right away regardless of where he decides to play, the accomplishments of Israeli and German players at UConn shows there is a pathway to success for Moretti and future European recruits.