Friday, September 4, 2009

Freshman 15 (As in 15 PPG)?

While word out of Storrs at this time of year should always be taken with a grain of salt, the UConn coaching staff is really liking what it sees from some of its incoming players. In fact, it appears the Huskies could get significant contributions from all four freshmen – Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Alex Oriakhi, Darius Smith and, if he can shoot a little better, Jamaal Trice – this winter.

It's Coombs that could be the pick of the litter. A good – though not great – athlete, he's shooting the ball well and establishing himself as a natural leader.

"He's like a 6-foot-7 ½ A.J. (Price)," said UConn assistant Patrick Sellers. "He can almost run a team. He knows how to play, he talks to everybody."

While Coombs will be listed as a small forward, he can play the two and even the point, and can guard any position on the floor but center. (And there are no academic issues with Coombs, who had to take a couple of courses this summer at the Tilton (N.H.) School before enrolling at UConn).

The staff also is really high on Smith, the tough little Chicago guard – particularly on the defensive end of the floor.

"He's a defensive menace," said Sellers. "Guys can never be comfortable with the ball in their hands when he's around."

Smith needs to put on some weight. He's at 170 right now, and the Huskies would love for him to put on even just five pounds of muscle as weight-lifting sessions get underway. But there's no doubting his athleticism – Smith apparently dunked over 7-foot Charles Okwandu in a scrimmage the other day.

***Rod Odom, the 6-8 Class of 2010 forward out of Middlesex School in Concord, Mass., did not visit UConn on Thursday, as originally intended. Odom will likely visit the school on an upcoming weekend, however, when he can take in a UConn football game and get in some run with some current Huskies players.

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