We have all felt it — the first moment you step on campus in Storrs, Connecticut feels magical. Maybe it’s the frostbite seeping into your brain from the aggressive winds in a Storrs December, maybe it’s the culture.
“I would just say it’s electric being on campus,” UConn men’s basketball’s Andre Jackson said in a Zoom call with media Friday. “Seeing the banners hung up on the wall, seeing the different players who came through here and really made an impact and left a legacy. I feel like the nostalgia here is just as good or greater than any program in the country.”
With the new season freshly around the corner, we had our first chance to talk to the newest members of the men’s basketball team. True freshmen Andre Jackson, Adama Sanogo and Javonte Brown stepped up to the mic to talk with media members alongside URI transfer Tyrese Martin.
The crown jewel of Dan Hurley’s 2020 recruiting class is the 6-foot-6 guard out of Amsterdam, New York. Jackson was a top-50 recruit out of Albany Academy, the highest ranked of Hurley’s tenure in Storrs.
Jackson said he’d been to UConn quite a bit and even saw UConn greats Ray Allen and Jim Calhoun on his first visit to the school.
He is looking to make a big impact in his first year in Storrs, even if he’s not scoring at the same volume that guard James Bouknight was in the second half of his first season.
“I know I’m gonna make impact whether that’s on defense, whether that’s rebounding, whatever I need to do,” Jackson said.
Jackson also said he had minor surgery on his meniscus “4-5 months ago” but now his knee is almost fully healthy and he’s been on the court “a lot.”
Brown is the youngest of the three freshmen after reclassifying to join the Huskies this season. The seven-footer turned 18 just last month and has the opportunity to make an impact on the glass for the Huskies after averaging nearly 19 points and almost 10 rebounds per game in his last year at Thornlea Secondary School in Ontario, Canada.
Over the summer, Brown had difficulty getting his I-20, a government form that allows non-United States citizens into US for college. Since he is from Canada, he needed to have an in-person class in order to come stateside but UConn couldn’t get him one in the first summer term, which meant he arrived later on.
“I was really worried, I’m not going to lie to y’all,” Brown said on how he felt before arriving on campus.
Brown said the move to the Big East played a “pivotal” role in his decision to come to UConn, especially since his family lives in Canada. Since many of the games UConn plays this season are going to be in the northeast region, it makes it easier for his family to travel to see him play, he said.
Martin took the long road to play for Hurley. After being initially recruited by him to play at URI, Hurley then left for UConn. The combo guard will be immediately eligible to play this season after obtaining a waiver from the NCAA.
“I was extremely confident knowing how many people around the country were getting a waiver around the country,” Martin said on the waiver process. “…But now, since this hearing has happened, it’s more of a relief type of feeling and now, I’m just excited to get out there and play again.”
Martin said that he felt UConn was the best opportunity on the table for him “to get to the next level.” He has the potential to play key minutes for the Huskies, who had just two double-digit scorers’ last season.
Like Brown, Sanogo also reclassified into 2020 from 2021. The Bamako, Mali native joins UConn from The Patrick School in Hillside, New Jersey, which is prime Hurley country. He average a double-double in his last year under Chris Chavannes at The Patrick School and could help bring some much needed rebounding to Storrs, like Brown.
Sanogo said he needs to work on his defense, specifically blocking shots — which he should have no problem learning in a team that had the eight-best block percentage in the country last season, according to KenPom. Sanogo also mentioned how he’s excited for the season to start up after Nov. 25, as are all of the other newcomers.
- Senior Tyler Polley has been cleared for full action, according to CBS’ Jon Rothstein. He missed the second half of last season to an ACL tear.
- UConn is set to play in the Legends Classic with three other schools – BYU, USC and Vanderbilt – at Mohegan Sun this season, according to Rothstein.