After previewing each of the teams on the UConn men’s basketball 2022-23 schedule, it’s time to move on to the players. The frontcourt has a mix of some of the most important players on the team, intriguing freshmen and also some returners that could provide depth.
Adama Sanogo is UConn’s best player. The reigning Big East preseason player of the year was the only Husky to receive a preseason honor from the conference and is also on the Kareem Abdul-Jabar Award preseason watchlist after being named a finalist for the award last season.
A hulking 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, Sanogo followed up a solid freshman season with a dominant sophomore year that resulted in an all-Big East first-team selection. An abdominal injury caused him to miss a few weeks in December, but he averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, which was good enough to rank in the top 10 in the conference in each category.
An inside force on both sides of the ball, Sanogo teamed up with Isaiah Whaley to clog the middle last season, which limited double-teams. Now that Whaley is gone, the power forward spot will likely be occupied mostly by Andre Jackson and Alex Karaban, each of whom are more suited to play on the outside. However, Sanogo has worked on his outside game this offseason after just one 3-point attempt in his first two years. If he is able to step outside and knock down the occasional deep shot, he becomes just that more valuable offensively.
While Sanogo is the team’s best player, the argument can be made that Jackson is the most important. An athletic freak, Jackson made a similar jump as Sanogo from freshman to sophomore year. It was clear in 2020-21 he was able to make plays that no one else could, but it was also apparent that he was still trying to harness that talent, but did so as a sophomore.
He averaged 6.8 points and rebounds, in addition to 3.1 assists, per game, starting each game except for Senior Day. A defensive bulldog, Jackson led the team in steals and defensive rebounds and can guard four of the five positions, which makes him an incredibly important defensive asset, even when his shots are not going down.
Jackson shot 42.6 percent from the field as a sophomore, including 36.1 percent from beyond the arc on 61 attempts. If Jackson can improve upon those numbers, particularly from 2-point range, he can take a huge step toward being an all-conference performer with lock-down and active defense.
With so much in flux after the graduation of so many important players, Jackson already brings the defensive intensity and with more offensive consistency, may be able to continue to rise up NBA Draft boards.
A local freshman, Clingan arrives as a consensus top-50 prospect. Listed at 7-foot-2 and 265 pounds, he led Bristol Central High School to a pair of consecutive undefeated seasons, including a Division II state championship as a senior. Uncharacteristically for many elite prospects in the Northeast, Clingan did not transfer to a prep school, which leads to some questions about the jump from the CIAC to the Big East, but his size should help, as should his spot behind Sanogo, who is established as the starting center.
Coming into Storrs, Clingan is lauded for his passing ability out of the post, which was required as he was always the best player on the floor in high school, resulting in double- and triple-teams, which made it easy to find the open man. His offense is a little bit ahead of his defense at this stage, but with how Sanogo has developed over the past few seasons, there’s reason to believe he’ll improve on that end of the court.
Clingan will likely be a role player as a freshman, with an all-conference performer ahead of him at center. He likely won’t play with Sanogo for long stretches, but will get playing time while Sanogo is resting or when the Huskies want to go big, particularly if Sanogo is able to step outside.
Technically a redshirt freshman, Karaban arrived for the spring semester in 2021-22 and used his redshirt season to practice and spend time with the team, but not play in games. A knock-down shooter, the Massachusetts native used the extra semester to his advantage, as he is in competition with Samson Johnson to start at forward to begin the year.
At 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Karaban is more of a stretch-four than Johnson is and his offense is ahead of his defense, while the opposite is true with Johnson. This will create a role for the two of them and matchups will dictate when the pair will play.
His size is a disadvantage and impacts his defense, as he will struggle against centers and bigger forwards that are significantly larger than he is. However, he makes up for that with good court vision and one of the more consistent shooting strokes on the team, which should create some playing time for him early, even if Johnson beats him out for the starting job.
The other half of the starting battle, Johnson seems to have taken a big step forward from his freshman season, in which he played 68 minutes across 13 games. He looked overmatched and was deployed only sporadically, save for 20 minutes against Grambling State, a game that Sanogo missed due to his abdominal injury.
However, a full offseason of training seems to have done wonders for Johnson, as he is battling with the more offensive-minded Karaban for a starting job at forward. Johnson is listed at 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, which is thin, but his length helps alter shots defensively and clog passing lanes inside, with solid rebounding ability.
Hurley loves to play strong defense, which will create a role for Johnson even if he does not win the starting job over Karaban, who brings more of an offensive skillset. The two mirror each other well, which means that matchups will dictate their playing time early, unless one truly separates themselves from the other.
A freshman coming to the program from Greece, Roumoglou worked his way into the rotation in the open scrimmage, with a lot of playing time.
With the Greek U-18 team, the 6-foot-7 wing averaged 8.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. At 19, Roumoglou is slightly older than the other freshmen, which has enabled him to enter a little quicker and be more comfortable with the pace of play.
Springs is already in his fourth year with UConn. He redshirted in 2019-20 after reclassifying and played sparsely in the two years that have followed, with just 41 minutes over 13 games, mostly in garbage time.
It seems as though this will continue into 2022-23, as he played sparsely in the open scrimmage. A three-star recruit according to Rivals, Springs is likely a depth piece.
Joining the roster in August, the 6-foot-9, 205-pound Hasson brings size and versatility to the forward position as someone who can play multiple positions. Hasson did not play much in the open scrimmage and was originally committed to Denver before flipping to the Huskies. He is likely a depth piece for now.