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Introducing the UConn freshmen

Castle, Ross, Stewart, Ball, and Singare should all see the court this year.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It’s a sign of a new era in team building, and UConn has adapted. With five freshmen arriving in a highly-rated recruiting class, ranked 5th in the nation by 247Sports, head coach Dan Hurley has reloaded impressively.

In the olden days, like 2019, before NIL and the transfer portal, all five freshmen in a recruiting class would not be likely to play a lot. But Hurley has acknowledged the new era and this year’s freshmen are indicative of that. They aren’t waiting in the wings; almost all of them will be taking on significant roles this season.

Stephon Castle

The first five-star recruit of the Hurley era, Castle is a 6-foot-6 dynamo expected to make a big splash, most likely as the starting point guard. He’s earned widespread praise for his vision and passing ability and can also score like a shooting guard. The Georgia native led the Huskies in scoring over the three games in their European trip, averaging 16.7 PPG, and also averaged 20.1 PPG as a high school senior.

Hurley called Castle “the most physically ready freshman” he’s ever coached. Castle has said that his primary job will be to facilitate with all of the low-post talent and shooting ability around him this season.

He may be in Storrs for only a year, with mock drafts already projecting him in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft, but Castle should be a high-impact player for the Huskies. He’s not being asked to be their best player or to lead the program to uncharted territory, so even though asking a freshman to be the starting point guard for the reigning national champs is a tall task, it’s also reasonable given his talent and the situation. Analysts around the game agree: he’s ready.

Solomon Ball

A DMV-area native, Ball transferred to New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy for his senior season after two years at St. James in Maryland. He’s a left-handed guard with a 43-inch vertical leap who drew comparisons from Jon Rothstein to greats like Cuttino Mobley.

Hurley has praised Ball’s maturity, shooting, and work ethic and seems to think that the former top-50 recruit is in line for a big freshman season.

“When you shoot it as clean as he’s shooting it and with the athleticism and with the pedigree, we’re happy,” Hurley said.

Ball throwing one down on First Night.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Jaylin Stewart

A 6-foot-7 wing, Stewart comes to UConn from across the country in Seattle, where he was coached by former NBA player Brandon Roy at Garfield High School and was a top-50-ish recruit in the rankings. His father and two uncles played high-major DI college basketball and one of them is also a coach at Garfield. Stewart’s commitment also confirmed that UConn would have an absolutely loaded freshman class.

An injury kept him out of summer work and the European games, but Stewart has been working hard to catch up and make sure he can be part of the solution for the Husky bench. He’s a versatile player who can play the 2, 3, or 4, and score in a lot of different ways.

Jayden Ross

Ross was a teammate of Ball at St. James and on the AAU circuit. He transferred to Long Island Lutheran for his senior year and was the second commitment of this vaunted 2023 freshman class, committing to UConn a week before Ball.

Like Stewart, Ross is a versatile, 6-foot-7 wing who will be looking to find his fit on the Huskies and in the rotation. He was a consensus four-star, top-150 recruit.

Youssouf Singare

A 6-foot-10 center from Bamako, Mali the same city as Adama Sanogo, Singare is going to be UConn’s second big man off the bench and could see a little extra time as Donovan Clingan recovers from a foot injury. Singare may not see as much time on the court this year as the rest of his classmates but figures to be part of the plans for the near future, as Clingan is likely to head to the pros after this season.