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UConn men’s basketball’s transfer targets

A deeper look into some players Dan Hurley is eyeing in the transfer portal.

NCAA Basketball: Rhode Island at Dayton David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

After point guard Alterique Gilbert announced his decision to transfer to Wichita State and Sidney Wilson entered the portal this past week, Dan Hurley and the Huskies officially have two scholarships open for next season.

With guard R.J. Cole now eligible after sitting out last season and Richie Springs set to suit up after using last year to get his grades up, the Huskies are in a solid spot. UConn doesn’t need two starters to compete in the Big East next year, so Hurley can target players to help round out the team for next season and beyond.

The Huskies also will get Tyler Polley back from his ACL injury early on in the year, and Akok Akok is aiming to be back by Big East play (a lofty expectation, but one we will stick with for now).

Between Cole, Springs, Polley and possibly Akok, there is enough depth alongside a solid recruiting class that there aren’t major holes that need to be filled outside of losing star guard Christian Vital. Assuming Cole and Jalen Gaffney can at least combine to fill Vital’s production, UConn has the luxury of choosing between a grad transfer to secure an instant boost, or an undergraduate transfer like Cole that could remain in Storrs for years to come. They could take one of each.

Based on the recent news from recruiting experts, it seems like Hurley has been pretty involved on both fronts already. Here’s a list of some the Huskies’ targets that will be updated until UConn’s scholarships are filled for 2020-21.

With Tyrese Martin transferring to UConn on Tuesday, here’s what the Huskies’ scholarship situation looks like for 2020.

Tyrese Martin, Rhode Island

Sophomore, 6-foot-6, guard

Martin never played for Hurley at URI, but the two have a connection as Hurley recruited Martin before leaving for UConn. At 6-foot-6, Martin could give the Huskies’ backcourt some much-needed size and help from a scoring and rebounding perspective. Martin averaged nearly 13 points and seven boards per game last season. He’s not much of a shooter, but could be a huge help defensively and give UConn some different looks alongside Cole or Gaffney in 2021.

UPDATE: Martin committed to UConn on Tuesday. April 7.

Ishmael El-Amin, Ball State

Junior, 6-foot-1, guard

The son of UConn great Khalid El-Amin entered the portal after three years at Ball State, where he has steadily improved after coming in as a 3-star recruit, finishing his junior season with Third Team All-MAC honors. Ish is a scoring guard, shooting 39.3 percent from three this past season on almost 200 attempts and averaging 13.8 points per game. It’s unclear exactly how interested UConn is at this time, but regardless of his lineage, the Huskies could certainly benefit from having another ballhandler and sharpshooter in the system.

El Ellis, Tallahassee Community College

Sophomore, 6-foot-3, guard

Ellis, a JUCO guard from Durham, North Carolina, averaged over 14 points and shot 40.3 percent from three as a freshman this past season for Tallahassee Community College. He intends to play another season at the JUCO level before heading to the NCAA in 2021. So far, Ellis has offers from UConn along with Arizona State, DePaul, North Carolina State, Iowa State, and East Carolina amongst others. He’s slated to virtually visit Storrs this week.

Jalen Carey, Syracuse

Junior, 6-foot-3, guard

Carey picked the Orange over the Huskies before Hurley’s first season at UConn, and is looking for a change of scenery after playing just two games this year. Carey didn’t do much at all at Syracuse, but was ranked by ESPN as the No. 38 prospect in the class of 2018 and could potentially salvage his collegiate career with a new team and head coach.

Brandon Johnson, Western Michigan

Grad transfer, 6-foot-8, forward

Johnson does a good job of getting to the free throw line, ranking 101st in the country last year in free throws drawn per 40 minutes. He’s a bit slender at 200 pounds, but he is one of the few grad transfers the Huskies are known to be targeting. He finished second in scoring for the Broncos at 15.5 points per game and led the team in rebounding with 8.1. While he won’t bring much to the table as a perimeter shooter (33 percent from three), he could provide some scoring, rebounding and athleticism off a bench unit that just lost Wilson to the portal. His game seems similar, albeit slightly less athletic, to former UConn grad transfer Shonn Miller.

UPDATE: Johnson announced on his Instagram page Thursday that he has committed to Minnesota.

Landers Nolley II, Virginia Tech

Redshirt Freshman, 6-foot-7, forward

Nolley is a talented scorer and one of the more coveted players in the portal. He led the Hokies with 15.5 points per game last season and added 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He’s definitely a little raw in every way - he has a knack for taking too many midrange jumpers and had to sit out his first season at Virginia Tech to get academically eligible - but he has already proven he can play well against high-level competition and has three years of eligibility remaining. He was a 4-star recruit in 2018 and was regarded as one of the best pure shooters in the class. Could develop into a lethal scorer under Hurley’s tutelage.

UPDATE: Nolley committed to Memphis on Monday, April 20.

Charles Minlend, San Francisco

Grad transfer, 6-foot-4, guard

With other guard grad transfers like Sam Sessoms, Justin Turner and Dimencio Vaughn no longer options for UConn, Minlend could be a big target to help ease the loss of Vital and Gilbert. Minlend went out west and started 64 of his final 65 games at USF, averaging just over 14.4 points a game in that span. While he was the Dons’ leading scorer, he’s not a shooter (41.6 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from three last season), but could provide a veteran presence in limited minutes and wouldn’t have an issue handling the scoring load at times if needed.

UPDATE: Minlend committed to Louisville on Friday, April 17.

Trey Murphy III, Rice

Sophomore, 6-foot-8, guard

Murphy is another intriguing portal prospect with some serious size and shooting ability. He led Rice in scoring this year at 13.7 points per game and is solid perimeter shooter, shooting 36 percent from three this season. Murphy would have to sit out this coming season, but he could be a matchup nightmare with his size and could form a solid backcourt alongside Gaffney and Cole.

UPDATE: Murphy cut UConn from his final list Tuesday. He’s no longer an option for the Huskies.