Just seven nights ago, UConn men’s basketball’s season officially came to an end. Two straight losses thanks to 45:07 of poor play put a bow on head coach Dan Hurley’s third season as the Huskies’ head coach
During his end of season press conference Friday afternoon, Hurley brought up this number more than a handful of times.
“It’s like etched in my brain, the last 45:07 of gameplay should push and drive every member of this organization in the offseason,” Hurley said. “Coaches, with what they’re doing with players for recruiting or players in terms of development and commitment. The last 45:07 is not who we want to be, and that should drive all of us to push ourselves, to deliver next season and next March. 45:07.”
There’s an element of uncertainty that comes with next season. Coaches and players are leaving programs by the hour. The Big East just got a new head coach among its ranks as Marquette has signed Shaka Smart away from Texas. Georgetown just lost another player to the transfer portal as sophomore big man Qudus Wahab left Thursday.
Hurley said they were unlikely to pursue a high number of transfers, even though they are in line to return seven players and bring in three recruits this summer.
GRID UPDATE— tcf15 (@tcf_15) March 23, 2021
With Brendan Adams graduating and James Bouknight likely going pro, here's the current outlook for UConn MBB in 2021 - three open scholarships.
Remember: Whaley, Polley and Carlton all have the option to return to UConn next year without taking up a scholarship. pic.twitter.com/6GonSCW76u
“I can’t see us being Transfer U,” Hurley said. “I feel like we want to build a program in more of a traditional way and try to supplement that, potentially, in a given year.”
The program is looking to add some shooting and versatility to complement the current roster, Hurley said. He also said he does not anticipate any further transfers from the returning seven but acknowledged that the situation could change at any minute.
There are three open scholarships for any potential additions, assuming James Bouknight leaves for the NBA. The possible return of Isaiah Whaley or Tyler Polley would not count against the 13 allotted scholarships next season.
With so many things still up in the air, let’s take a look at each question mark on the roster at this time.
There has been speculation among fans that Bouknight may return for another season because of his draft stock potentially falling due to some uncharacteristic play down the stretch. Hurley didn’t offer any clarity on his situation, but said he’s spoken to the sophomore and has probably seen him more since the end of the season than he did during it.
“Listen, if you’re a lottery pick, and you’re able to accomplish that in two years, that’s a pretty hard thing to turn down,” Hurley said.
Bouknight averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game in what will likely be his final season in Storrs. He was named a Big East All-Conference First Team member despite playing in just 15 games due to an elbow injury.
The Brooklyn Dodger, as announcer Gus Johnson insists he be called, is projected by multiple outlets to be inside the first 14 picks of the upcoming NBA Draft.
Tankathon has him at No. 12 on their big board as well as the third-best shooting guard in the class behind Jalen Green and Moses Moody. Hoopshype had him at No. 11, but that was before the start of the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Jonathon Givony has not updated his draft mock since Feb. 2 but had Bouknight at No. 11 as well. The highest he’s appeared in recent weeks is No. 9 on both The Athletic’s Mock Draft 3.0 and Bleacher Report’s mock.
He’s very good and he’s going to be making quite a bit of money playing in the NBA, whenever that will be.
Isaiah Whaley and Tyler Polley
These two are the only remaining question-marks from the senior class this year. This week, both Josh Carlton and Brendan Adams have decided to grad transfer and use their remaining eligibility elsewhere.
Polley and Whaley have the option to return for another season, but Hurley did not have an update on their situations at the time of the press conference. He did say that they are in a tough spot because of COVID-19 squeezing the basketball economy a bit, specifically in the NBA G-League and in overseas professional leagues.
Hurley gave the team the week off to “decompress” so a decision may not be reached until after this week or further into the offseason.
“There’s a lot of older players, seniors, that have got really, really hard decisions to make,” Hurley said.