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UConn men’s basketball updates: Road date set for Florida, Donovan Clingan arrives on campus

The Huskies have also added some pieces to their roster and coaching staff.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn has officially announced that its postponed game at Florida will be made up this year. The Huskies will visit the Gators on Dec. 7.

During the weird and wild 2020-21 season, hundreds of games were canceled or rescheduled due to the pandemic. One of those matchups was a highly-anticipated tilt between UConn and Florida, where the Huskies were set to head down to Gainesville to round out a home-and-home series between the two schools.

UConn now has five non-conference games announced so far — three for the PK85 tournament in November (against some combination of Alabama, Iowa State, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oregon, Portland, and Villanova) and a Dec. 1 home game against Oklahoma State as part of the Big 12/Big East Battle.

UConn is 4-1 all-time against the Gators and has won four in a row since losing to Florida in the Sweet 16 of the 1994 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies’ four wins over Florida, all since 2013, have been won by a total of 17 points.

Donovan Clingan arrives on campus

Just one day after his senior prom at Bristol Central High School, Donovan Clingan began the next step in his basketball career by taking his talents to Storrs. The 7-foot-2 big man is coming off an illustrious career at Bristol Central, where he led his hometown Rams to a state title and 43-straight wins.

Clingan, the reigning Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year for the past two seasons, comes in as arguably one of the most hyped local recruits since Andre Drummond. As a polished offensive player and skilled passer, he will need to show he can play defense at a high level to break into the rotation as a true freshman.

He is also reportedly already making major strides in transforming his body — the Courant’s Shreyas Laddha says that Clingan has gone from 285 pounds to 265 pounds since wrapping up his last high school game.

Dan Hurley adds preferred walk-on

According to head coach Dan Hurley, the Huskies are still looking to add another player or two ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season. But in case that doesn't happen, Hurley has added some quality insurance in terms of a preferred walk-on. Hearst’s Dave Borges reports that Andre Johnson Jr., a product of nearby South Kent Prep school, will join the Huskies at the end of the bench this coming season and look to eventually carve out a spot in the rotation over the next few years.

Johnson grew up in Bristol and played alongside Clingan on numerous teams growing up, and now joins UConn as a 6-foot-4 guard who can shoot well and played quality minutes under former Huskies assistant Raphael Chillious, now the head coach at South Kent. Johnson will likely serve a key role on the Huskies’ scout team to start, utilizing his size and shooting skills to emulate some of the Big East’s top scorers.

“Some kids might help you because they’re good kids, but Dre has potential, because he has good size and he really shoots the ball,” Chillious told Borges. “When you’ve got someone with size and can shoot the ball, you know he’s going to develop there.”

Mamadou Diarra named Director of Player Development

In other personnel news, Mamadou Diarra, who wrapped up his time as a graduate assistant after earning his degree this spring, has been named the Huskies’ Director of Player Development according to the UConn website. The move ensures that Diarra will be a part of the team with his brother Hassan, who transferred to UConn from Texas A&M this offseason.

Diarra, who played 33 games for the Huskies before medically retiring and joining Hurley’s staff as a grad assistant, replaces Taliek Brown, who left the Huskies earlier this summer to become an assistant coach at Iona. As the Director of Player Development, Diarra will be responsible for creating activities for the players that create valuable life skills. monitoring study halls and facilitating community outreach events.