Thursday, April 29, 2010

Calhoun 'Thrilled' With New Recruits

Tell us where you've heard this one before: Jim Calhoun says that signing a contract extension with UConn is just around the corner.

“It’s signaturable,” Calhoun said of the contract, while perhaps making up a new word along the way. “Right now, it’s up to the university. As soon as they say ‘go,’ as far as I’m concerned, it will be done.”

Of course, Calhoun said back in January that his extension was essentially done, and after a source with knowledge of the situation told me in mid-March that it would be a done deal in about a month, Calhoun said the same thing publicly.

A Wall Street Journal story on Wednesday noted that questions surrounding Calhoun’s unsigned contract, coupled with health issues that sidelined him for seven games this past season, had scared off potential recruits, including Josh Selby, the McDonald’s All-America guard who recently signed with Kansas University.

In fact, over the last couple of weeks, the Huskies have whiffed on some of the most sought-after recruits in the country. Selby, Brandon Knight (Kentucky), Doron Lamb (Kentucky), Corey Joseph (Texas) and C.J. Leslie (North Carolina State) all were heavily recruited by UConn but ultimately chose to go elsewhere.

Still, when reached on his cell phone this afternoon while he was on his way to a round of golf with his son and George Blaney, Calhoun said he is “thrilled” with the five members of the program’s incoming freshman class, which is ranked No. 17 in the nation by and includes Roscoe Smith, the scouting service’s No. 6-rated small forward.

“I like the kids we have here,” Calhoun said. “We didn’t get everybody we started out after, no. But we got more guys than we expected.”

Calhoun apparently is referring to the fact that two players – 6-foot-9 power forward Tyler Olander of Mansfield and 6-foot point guard Shabazz Napier of Cambridge, Mass – were originally slotted as Class of 2011 recruits. But Olander elected to graduate from E.O. Smith High this spring rather than return to prep school for a year. Napier has been awaiting word from his prep school, Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., on whether he’ll be able to re-classify from Class of 2011 to 2010. According to one source, Napier received word on Wednesday that he’s good to go for next season. However, sources around the program said it wasn't a done deal yet.

If Smith, Napier, Olander, 6-4 shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and 6-9 center Michael Bradley are all to suit up for the Huskies next season, something must be done to make room for them. UConn has nine returning players, which would give them 14 players for 13 scholarship spots.

Calhoun said he’s had discussions with freshman guard Jamaal Trice, who didn’t see a single second of action in Big East play this past season, about playing time next year and a possible transfer, though nothing has been determined.

Asked if senior center Jonathan Mandeldove, who effectively red-shirted last season after struggling with academics, is definitely in the mix for next year, Calhoun said: “Talk to me after finals.”

Read more on the potential NCAA investigation into UConn's alleged recruiting violations in tomorrow's Register.

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