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Spring Forward: A Look At UConn Men’s Basketball’s 2019 Recruits

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Hurley’s first recruiting class at UConn is a good one.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Dan Hurley’s first season didn’t go as well as expected, but it’s obvious to see that he made some major strides developing talent and building a new culture in Storrs. While star guard Jalen Adams will be graduating, another major moment in Hurley’s UConn tenure will occur next season as he welcomes his first recruiting class.

After not posting a top-40 ranked recruiting class by ESPN rankings for the past two seasons, Hurley’s recruiting class is ranked tops in the American Athletic Conference and 17th in the country.

The trio of James Bouknight, Jalen Gaffney and Akok Akok is the highest-rated UConn class since Kevin Ollie pulled in a top-10 class in 2016, but most of those players left the program.

Bouknight and Gaffney promise to be the next generation of the UConn backcourt. For a program as guard-dominant as the Huskies, these two top-100 prospects have the potential to become the backbone of the program for the next few years.

Bouknight, who stands 6-foot-4, is an athletic shooting guard who should be able to fit in nicely alongside both Gilbert and Gaffney. This past season, Bouknight made the all-NEPSAC team for his division at MacDuffie School. He’ll be part of a deep guard rotation in his first year in a healthy competition for playing time.

Gaffney has continued to rise up the recruiting ranks after a strong senior season, and a few recruiting experts like his chances of blossoming under Hurley in Storrs because the two are a near perfect fit. Barring injury, Gaffney won’t have to take the reins of the offense right away, allowing him to learn from Alterique Gilbert and to be an impact option off the bench.

Lastly, Hurley brought in Akok for the spring semester this season, where he has been able to practice with the team and take some classes. So far, it seems like Akok has made the most of this head start and has looked impressive in practice.

Akok is a long and athletic forward that should be able to be a rim protector on defense and a legit 3-point option on the other. While he is still a little raw, getting on campus early and being able to continue to work through the summer should help speed up his development. He’ll make a nice frontcourt combo with the emerging Josh Carlton.

All three of these recruits fill a need and could be the core for some of Hurley’s first great teams. If Hurley is able to land another player, likely a grad transfer, next year’s team could finally post a winning record and return to the NCAA tournament.