Less than a week after Tyrese Martin announced his intention to leave UConn, teammate RJ Cole has chosen to do the same. Cole announced via social media Monday night that he will not use his extra year of eligibility and instead has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft.
Cole, who turns 23 in August, led UConn in scoring (15.8 points per game) and assists (4.1 per game) in his second season with the Huskies. The Union, New Jersey native scored 1,510 points at Howard University in two seasons before transferring to UConn, where he sat out the 2019-2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He scored 802 points during his time with the Huskies and finished his collegiate career with 2,312 points between UConn and the Bison.
While Adama Sanogo was the first option for the Huskies’ halfcourt offense, Cole was an ultra-reliable leader. He played nearly 34 minutes per game this season and was one of UConn’s few scorers that could create his own shot or bail out the Huskies late in the shot clock. Even if UConn couldn’t get much going on the offensive end, Cole was unafraid to carry the Huskies — he scored 20 or more points nine times this season, and UConn went 5-4 in those games.
With Cole and Martin now officially gone, in addition to the graduating Tyler Polley and Isaiah Whaley, the Huskies lose a significant amount of leadership, scoring, and experience.
Cole’s departure leaves the backcourt looking particularly light. While UConn has a highly-touted Corey Floyd Jr. coming off of a redshirt year to go along with Rahsool Diggins and Jalen Gaffney, head coach Dan Hurley will almost certainly use the transfer portal to bulk up the Huskies’ backcourt as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season.