When UConn rolls out the ball rack and hits the hardwood in October there'll be plenty of new faces and plenty of questions facing Coach Kevin Ollie and his staff. With the graduation of Ryan Boatright and the transfer of some serviceable pieces, Ollie will be melding the remaining parts with a pair of notable freshmen and some promising one year transfer students.
With the graduation of Boatright and the transfers of guard Terrance Samuel and backup forward Rakim Lubin, the 2015 Huskies will feature newcomers, freshmen Jalen Adams and Steven Enoch, as well as graduate student transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller. UConn also brought in redshirt freshman Terry Larrier, will sit out the 2015-16 season leaving him with three years of eligibility, beginning with the 2016-17 season.
Adams, a 6-2 guard from Roxbury, Mass., will in all likelihood will be assuming the point guard duties from day one. UConn's success in the 2015-16 campaign may very well depend on how fast Adams ascends the learning curve associated with the one spot.
Prior to the late season emergence of Rodney Purvis, Boatright was pretty much a one man show in UConn's backcourt last season. Adams transition to the college game should be aided by the seasoned Purvis and the arrival of Sterling Gibbs. Gibbs, a Seton Hall Transfer, garnered second team All-Big East honors and was the only player in the Big East to rank in the top five in both scoring and assists. In addition, he averaged 16.3 points per game and doled out 3.8 assists per contest, while shooting almost 44% from beyond the arc. His three point shooting percentage ranked second in the Big East and ninth nationally.
"What Sterling brings is experience", said Ollie Wednesday, "Playing so well in the Big East with his great scoring ability... For him to come here and fill a spot that we need, especially with his shooting range, is big time."
UConn's frontcourt gets a good deal deeper as Enoch and Miller join swingman Daniel Hamilton, inconsistent center Amidah Brimah and forwards Philip Nolan and Kentan Facey up front. Enoch, named the 2014-15 Gatorade Connecticut Boys Basketball Player of the Year, is a 6-10 kid from Norwalk who averaged 15 points and 9 boards
, playing for St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.). Ivy Leaguer Miller of Cornell, comes in as a 6-7, 210 pound small forward, who averaged 16.8 points while pulling down 8.5 caroms a game. For the second season in a row UConn struggled, at times mightily, off the glass and Ollie hopes one or both of the newcomers can provide some much need rebounding muscle.
Said Ollie, "Shonn (Miller's) explosiveness and his versatility, being able to play multiple positions, will be a big factor for us. He rebounded at a high rate last year in the Ivy League and we all think that can translate to any league. Plus, he has the shooting ability to be able to score from different areas of the court."
If the new additions live up to their billing, returnees Omar Calhoun and Sam Cassell Jr may struggle to find minutes. Cassell is working his way back from a stress fracture that sidelined him for the second half of the season and, as the season progressed, Calhoun spent more time in Ollie's doghouse than on the court.
On paper UConn should have backcourt depth and should have some healthy competition for minutes in the frontcourt. It will be interesting to see how Ollie utilizes Hamilton and Miller, both explosive players best suited to play the three. Ultimately the success of the 2015-16 campaign, after a disappointing 2014-15 season, will hinge on bounce back years from the veterans, development of key youth and the successful transition to UConn hoops by a couple of veteran one and done players. Time will tell. http://www.examiner.com/article/kevin-ollie-has-depth-heading-into-the-upcoming-season …