Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching up with Jeff Adrien

Earlier today I caught up with Jeff Adrien, who is back home in the Hyde Park section of Boston after a difficult first professional season in Spain.

Adrien will be playing in his first-ever Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star game on Aug. 7.

"It’s a game that, before I stepped on campus, I wanted to be a part of," Adrien said. "I’m very excited to be on the same court with basically every (major) player in Connecticut history."

Adrien had a tough rookie season with Leche Rio Breogan, which competes in Spain's second division. He averaged about 12.5 points and 7.5 boards a game ("some people might be pleased with that," he said), and enjoyed the people and the food. The basketball? Not so much.

"It's a completely different style of play, a different way of callilng the game," Adrien said. "Normal plays here are a travel out there. It was frustrating at times."

With that in mind, Adrien has informed his agent he has no plans on returning to Spain. He's going to do whatever he can to get to the NBA. Adrien played in the Orlando summer league (with the Magic) and the Las Vegas summer league (with Memphis), and believes he's opened some eyes.

"Right now, I’m really trying to focus on making the NBA," he said. "I think I have a good chance of making it, either through (training) camp or through the ‘D’ league. If I have to go through the ‘D’ league route, I’ll go through the ‘D’ league route. I’m just going to stay focused on making the NBA."

Here's a few other interesting tidbits from my conversation with Adrien:

***Jeff's mother, Linotte, hails from Haiti, and she was vacationing there when the catastrophic earthquake hit the island nation in January. For about 12 hours, Jeff wasn't able to get in touch with his mom and had no idea how she was doing.

“I couldn’t sleep that night, really,” Adrien recalled. “I didn’t go to practice the next morning, I just waited to hear from her.”

Finally, after about 12 hours, Adrien finally heard from his mom. She was fine, never really in harm’s way. So was her family, most of whom Jeff has never met. They were extremely lucky, avoiding damage from an earthquake estimated to have killed 230,000 people and left 1 million homeless.

***Adrien teamed with Stanley Robinson on the Magic's summer team.

"Everything's new for Stanley. It's an adjustment," Adrien said. "He did fine."

***Which ex-UConn player influenced Adrien the most before and during his Husky career?

"You know what, I can say almost all of them, really. It’s my dream school. To go to Connecticut was great, a dream come true."

***Adrien on the NCAA's investigation into UConn's alleged recruiting violations: "I haven’t kept track of it as much. I can’t really speak on it because I don’t know too much about it. It's very unfortunate to see two good coaches (Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald) go, though. Those guys were great, very helpful, great coaches. It’s very sad to see them go like that."

***Adrien is producing a documentary on the "journey of my basketball career, starting in Brookline ... it's a work in progress. Hopefully, it has a good ending. It mght not come out for a while, when I'm in the NBA, or in five years if things didn’t work out."

***Adrien remembers fellow Boston native Shabazz Napier, an incoming UConn freshman, when he was "very small."

"He used to come to our AAU games, hang out with us. I'm excited for him to be out there, another guy from Boston representing Boston in the family of UConn."

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Jeff Adrien it's one of the best players I've ever seen.

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