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UConn Men’s Basketball Offseason Recap

It was an eventful offseason in Storrs for the Huskies men’s basketball team. Here’s a look back at everything that happened.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The last time the UConn men’s basketball team played a game was March 8, a loss to SMU in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Seven months later, it seems everything has changed for the Huskies. There’s a new coach, a lot of new players, a new recruiting class, and a new outlook for the program and its fans. Here’s a look back at everything that’s happened this offseason.

February 27: Terry Larrier announces that he’ll be leaving UConn to enter the NBA Draft, a promise he follows through on after the season. Larrier went undrafted but signed with the Dallas Mavericks before being waived after suffering a significant knee injury. The Huskies will miss his outside shooting.

March 10: Kevin Ollie is dismissed as the head coach. Luckily for everyone involved, this was an amicable parting with no controversy whatsoever, and there were no further details to share about this story.

March 10: Speculation immediately begins on candidates who might take over the job from Ollie. One name in particular stood out as an early favorite.

March 12: Raphael Chillious is announced as the interim head coach and Ollie decides he will contest his firing, leading into a protracted legal battle, which the university and athletic department always appeared to have the upper hand in, even if the ethical case was not quite so clear.

March 19: UConn loses their top incoming recruit, as James Akinjo decides to reopen his recruitment. Akinjo was courted by Ollie specifically, so this wasn’t much of a surprise. The California point guard later signed with Georgetown.

March 22: UConn makes the rumors official by hiring Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley, who had been just about everyone’s prediction to take the job helming the Huskies. Pittsburgh was the other finalist for Hurley’s services.

March 23: All the details on Hurley’s hiring are hashed out one day later, when he’s introduced at Storrs as the next head coach.

March 28: Emmitt Matthews Jr. also reopens his recruitment, and while he (unlike Akinjo) said he would continue to consider UConn, the offer he received from West Virginia was too good for him to pass up.

March 29: More attrition, as Lukas Kisunas, the last member of Ollie’s final recruiting class at UConn, also decides he will also reopen his recruitment. The three-star center later found his new home out west with Stanford.

March 29: Tom Moore returns to UConn as an assistant coach on Hurley’s staff. Moore, known for his work pulling in some of UConn’s best recruits, spent over a decade with Jim Calhoun before becoming the head coach at Quinnipiac, and now returns for his second stint in Storrs.

April 10: Hurley finalizes his coaching staff by hiring Kenya Hunter and Kimani Young away from the Big Ten, bringing a couple lower-level assistants with him from Rhode Island and keeping Kevin Freeman on staff. Freeman would later accept a different assistant job at Penn State.

April 15: Hurley brings in his first recruit at UConn, signing Baltimore-area guard Brendan Adams, who had previously committed to Hurley at Rhode Island.

April 15: That same day, UConn gets a commitment from graduate transfer Tarin Smith, a guard from Duquesne who previously played one year at Nebraska.

April 17: The Huskies finalize their roster with their last remaining scholarship going to graduate transfer Kassoum Yakwe, a defensive specialist forward from St. John’s.

April 22: Jalen Adams, who had mulled following in Terry Larrier’s footsteps by going professional after the coaching change, decides to come back for his senior season at UConn.

May 21: Christian Vital officially withdraws from NBA Draft consideration. Vital’s departure was far less likely than Adams’ or Larrier’s, but the confirmation that he’ll be back with the Huskies next season made things easier for Hurley.

May 30: The Huskies hire Sal Alosi as their new Director of Human Performance. No word on whether P. Diddy has been spotted near Gampel yet.

June 21: Details are clarified on the “just cause” used to justify Ollie’s firing. Former assistant coach Glen Miller went on record to speak with the NCAA about the rules violations that occurred under his tenure.

June 21: The non-conference schedule is released. Highlights include two high-profile games at Madison Square Garden against Syracuse and Villanova and a home game against Arizona.

July 3: Former national champion Taliek Brown joins Hurley’s staff in a player development role. Brown, who was the starting point guard on the 2003-04 Huskies squad, was known for his heady play and passing ability.

July 16: The first injury news of the year comes in the form of knee surgery for Mamadou Diarra. The power forward’s recovery time was reported to be four to six months.

July 18: In broadcasting news, the replacement for longtime radio play-by-play announcer Joe D’Ambrosio is announced as Mike Crispino, who had previously been in the same position with the New York Knicks.

August 8: The term “best shape of his life” is thrown around a lot in sports, and often doesn’t result in markedly better play...but Eric Cobb certainly seems to be in pretty great shape. Cobb has lost 60 pounds since the previous season and is expected to be a bigger part of the rotation this year.

September 18: Hurley gets his first commitment of the Class of 2019, getting a verbal from four-star New York guard James Bouknight. With a lot of scholarships to fill after this season, the early start is a good sign for the recruiting class.

September 19: The full schedule is announced for the 2018-19 season. UConn will be playing AAC champion hopefuls Cincinnati and Wichita State twice during the conference season.

September 24: Hurley picks up his second 2019 recruit of the week, receiving a verbal commitment from Philadelphia-area combo guard Jalen Gaffney. Gaffney, who appears on some top 100 boards, says Bouknight’s desire to be teammates helped push him to Storrs.

September 29: The NCAA’s report of their investigation into Kevin Ollie reveals an unethical conduct charge that could lead to a show cause penalty against the former coach, a major step up from the less serious recruiting violations presumed to be the reason for his firing. UConn was not cited in the charges.

October 15: UConn is picked to finish 5th in the AAC Coaches Poll, showing coaching staffs have more faith in the Huskies this season following a 9th place finish in the conference last year.