Monday, June 28, 2010

Ollie, Miller to be Announced This Week

If you're wondering what the hold-up is regarding the announcement of UConn's two new assistant coaches, well ... there really is no hold-up.

Jim Calhoun told myself and Neill Ostrout of the Post two weeks ago that he expected the coaches to be named by June 22. He then told us and other reporters at the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am last Wednesday that he hoped it could get done within the next day or two.

Well, it's still not done, but fret not ... Calhoun was being a little over-aggressive about when the announcement would come. Just Jim being Jim.

The announcements of Kevin Ollie and Glenn Miller (and we're told those will be the two hires, as if there were any further doubt) will come this week. Sooner than later, we're told.

I'll be out of commission for the next couple of days, but be sure to check out the Register's coverage. My wife is being induced into labor Tuesday morning, and we'll be welcoming our second child (and first son) into the world. Exciting times for us.

And exciting times for UConn fans as you'll be welcoming Ollie/Miller back into the "family" some time over the next few days.

And no, not that Ollie Miller ------>>>>

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sticks Gets Picked

Stanley Robinson was selected by the Orlando Magic -- finally! -- with the next-to-last pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Robinson, thought to be a potential late-first round or early-second round selection, went with the 59th pick in the draft. As a second-round pick, Robinson doesn’t get a guaranteed salary and must make the Magic team. He’ll almost certainly play for the team’s summer league team in a couple of weeks.

If Robinson makes the team, he may be able to negotiate a salary for guaranteed money. Former UConn teammate A.J. Price, taken with the No. 52 pick last year, signed a guaranteed three-year, $2 million deal with the Indiana Pacers last fall.

Why did Robinson, thought to be a potential mid-to-late-first round pick, fall so far? Well, don't forget what an NBA director of player personnel told me in February about worries about Robinson's makeup.

“Leaving school, going to work in a factory, he’s already got a couple of kids,” the source said. “Not that those are deal-breakers, but they’re things that could scare some teams away.”

On Wednesday, after playing in the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am, UConn coach Jim Calhoun said that teams who had interviewed Robinson weren’t sure how focused he was.
“He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Someday, I want to be an all-star and win an NBA championship,’” Calhoun noted. “That’s not Stanley.”

Nobody, however, has ever questioned Robinson athleticism. So, he'll have the chance to go to a good team and add some athleticism and energy for 12-15 minutes a game off the bench.

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Paul George?

Can't say I know much about this Fresno State alum who was picked 10th tonight by the Pacers, but how bad can a guy with half the Beatles in his name be? Now all the Pacers need to do is find a guy named John Ringo to team up with him. Or Jim Ringo ... wasn't he a football player?

How Did Kentucky Not Win a Title?

They've had four of the top 18 picks in the NBA Draft, including the No. 1 overall in John Wall. Exactly how did the Wildcats not win last year? Doesn't say much for John Calipari.

Make that five of the first 29 -- the first time one school has had five players drafted in the first round. Daniel Orton goes No. 29 to Orlando. A potential pick, obviously. I remember when he visited UConn at Jim Calhoun's Elite Camp a couple of summers ago. He was raw at the time, but definitely had an NBA body even then.

How Does UConn Stack Up?

UConn is very respectably high on this Sporcle list, but not No. 1. How well can you do naming the schools with the most NBA first-round draft picks over the past 30 years?

Big East conference opponents released

Conference opponents for the Big East men's basketball 2010-11 season were announced today. UConn will play home-and-home with Louisville, Marquette and Notre Dame.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Draft Notice

Jim Calhoun says he shot a 78 in Wednesday's Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am, the best round he's had at TPC River Highlands in a long time.

He also believes there could be three ex-UConn players selected in tomorrow night's NBA Draft.

Stanley Robinson is expected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second. Jerome Dyson could be a late-second round selection, and it’s remotely possible that Gavin Edwards could get selected, as well.

“I’ve talked to teams, and what I’m getting is that, probably like his career in many ways – with Stanley, some people love him, other guys, maybe not,” Calhoun said of Robinson. “Everybody conducts some of the questions, they’re not sure how focused he is in some of the interviews. He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Someday I want to be an All-Star and win an NBA championship. That’s not Stanley.”

The Washington Wizards, who own the first, 30th and 35th overall picks, are said to be interested in the 6-foot-9 jumping jack.

“He’d be a very good get for them,” Calhoun said. “It’s hard for me to believe that he’s not going to be motivated to play basketball. He has great obligations to his family, to his mom, and everybody else. I don’t know if he can articulate it … that’s probably his greatest weakness, in his interviews.”

He added: “If you told me he went as high as 14, I’d say, ‘Yeah.’ If you told me he didn’t go until the second round, I’d be surprised, because I think guys are missing out on a great talent. I’ve talked to Kevin Stacom, a good friend who works for Dallas, and he and I both agree he’s a top-20 talent. And once you get by four or five, you’re taking a chance anyways, so you’ve got to take a chance.”

Calhoun added that the Charlotte Bobcats, who currently don’t pick until the second round, have some interest in Dyson, and Minnesota likes Gavin Edwards.

“He’s got a chance: nice kid, can fit into a team,” Calhoun said of the latter. “They’re looking, sometimes, for a guy who can just fit in, eventually become a pretty good player. All we have to do is watch the playoffs … Shannon Brown, those kind of guys, they’re much better pros than they are college players.”

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'Funny, How? Like a Clown? Do I Amuse You?'

Oh to be a fly on the wall for this one: Jim Calhoun and Joe Pesci chatting on the first tee at the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am this afternoon at TPC River Highlands.

What little I did hear from the conversation, Calhoun was talking to Pesci about the "now youze can't leave" line in 'A Bronx Tale.' I home Jim knew that it was Chazz Palminteri who uttered that line, not Pesci, who only appeared in one brief scene at the very end of the movie.

Oh, and it's worth noting that Pesci was introduced as an actor who played such iconic roles as "Danny DeVito in Goodfellas." Um, the character's name was Tommy DeVito.

As to the assistant coach search, Calhoun said: "We hope to have something done. Jeff Hathaway is away. He said he'd be back by 6 p.m. tonight and would go to the office so if we can sign some papers tonight or tomorrow hopefully by tomorrow night or Friday we'd have something done."

It has been widely reported that Kevin Ollie (assistant) and Glen Miller (director of basketball administration) are the top candidates to replace Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald, respectively.

"They still have to sign contracts. After I make a recommendation, they still have to agree with the athletic director on the price and all that type of thing.

Financially, I know one of the candidates has got three other offers, not at this level. Obviously they aren't going to be able to outbid us."

Here's Calhoun teeing off on the first hole, where he heard mostly warm cheers (but I believe I detected a few scattered boos):

Calhoun added that every one of next year's players are on campus right now except Roscoe Smith and Niels Giffey.

Giffey is trying to make a decision on what he wants to do as far as playing with the German under-19 team or not this summer.

Meanwhile, "Kemba (Walker) will be leaving on July 17 to work out with the Olympic team. They announce 10 or 11 college kids will work every day with the Olympic team. It's a nice honor for him."

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Calhoun Charity Game Aug. 7

The Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game will be held on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Most of the great players who have played for Coach Calhoun during the past twenty years are expected to participate: Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall, Khalid El-Amin, Doron Sheffer, Ricky Moore and Rudy Gay, among others. Two teams of Coach Calhoun’s former players will play in a collegiate-style game.

“I am excited to be able to once again bring so many of my former players back together for what should be a special reunion for them and for the fans of Connecticut. I am also pleased that proceeds from the game will go to fight America’s number #1 killer – heart disease,” said Coach Jim Calhoun.

Since 1999, the Mohegan Sun / Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic has raised more than $3 million for cardiology research at the UConn Health Center’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center.

The charity game’s title sponsor is Mohegan Sun and it is presented by Price Chopper in association with Comcast.

Tickets are $22 to $29 and go on sale as of 10AM on Tuesday, June 22nd through Ticketmaster and at the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office. To purchase game tickets, call Ticketmaster at 800.345.7000; go to, or visit the Mohegan Sun Box Office.

For more information about the 2010 Mohegan Sun / Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game presented by Price Chopper and the Mohegan Sun / Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic, please call the event’s organizers, Gold, Orluk & Partners, at 860.674.1500.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Harkless De-Commits

According to, Maurice Harkless is has de-committed to UConn and is re-opening his recruitment "just ... to make sure UConn is still the right choice."


Saturday, June 19, 2010

No German Bologna

Here's a YouTube video of freshly-minted UConn commit Niels Giffey, a Berlin native (and we don't mean the Connecticut Berlin, either).


Friday, June 18, 2010

Nothing Iffy About Giffey

Niels Giffey has always been a big Ray Allen fan, even when the former UConn star struggled at times during the NBA finals.

It’s that appreciation for Allen, and many of the other great wing players that have come through Storrs, that helped Giffey, a German native, decide to commit to the Huskies on Friday morning.

“I’m really excited to come to UConn,” said Giffey, who speaks fluent English. “I knew that UConn has a great basketball history. Coach Calhoun is a Hall of Fame coach, they’ve had Ray Allen and plenty of great wings. I like that fact. It’s a good team, a great coaching staff. I really felt comfortable.”

Giffey, who has been on an official visit to UConn the past two days, said he’s slated to graduate from the German equivalent of high school this week and will be on the Huskies’ team this season.

UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur visited Germany in April to see Giffey play for the Alba Berlin youth team, which is coached by former University of North Carolina player Henrik Rodl. Giffey had attended an adidas camp in the United States a few years ago and attracted interest from several schools, including Louisville, Michigan, Gonzaga and UCLA. UConn was the only school he visited, however.

“I can play positions 1 through 4,” Giffey said. “I’m a very versatile player. I can shoot the ball, run. I like to win, I like to play defense, run the fast break. I’m a team player, and I like to put my teammates into good positions.”

Giffey ran with most of the current Huskies in scrimmages over the past couple of days. We're hearing Kemba Walker really enjoyed playing with him.

Giffey, a Berlin native, said Calhoun and the Huskies’ coaching staff told him he’ll get a chance to see a lot of minutes right away.

“They told me I will get a chance to play my game, to make the team better, just do what I can to make the team run,” he said.

A couple of other things:

***The Huskies now have six freshmen coming in: Giffey, Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander and Michael Bradley. They can do this because they have three seniors graduating (Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards) two players transferring (Darius Smith and Jamaal Trice) and one unused scholarship from last year. Even if the NCAA winds up docking UConn a scholarship or two (a decision that likely won't happen before January), it won't affect any of the incoming freshmen.

***Rodl apparently wanted to keep Giffey to play on his first division pro team in Germany, but Giffey's parents (his dad's a professor, mom's an architect) wanted him to get a college education.

***Giffey is said to have a great feel for the game and a high skill level.

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Giffey Commits

UConn got a commitment today from Niels Giffey, a top junior basketball player from Germany. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Giffey is a versatile perimeter guard and was a standout for Alba Berlin's youth team under former North Carolina player Henrik Rodl.

His final list was down to Louisville, Michigan, Gonzaga and UCLA.

More to come ...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paper or Plastic?

Jim Calhoun was at the grand opening of an impressive new Price Chopper store in Middletown this afternoon. For those who'd say we'd cover the opening of an envelope if Calhoun was there, well ... I didn't see any envelopes being opened. Just a cake being cut by Calhoun and Price Chopper CEO Neil Golub.

Calhoun was asked about the assistant coach search:

"We won't announce anything this week. Right now, we'd love to be able to go forward, but it doesn't make any sense. I've already put a deadline that by next Tuesday or Wednesday, we've got to come forward, because we're right on the corner of recruiting. We go out on July 6 and we want to have someone in place."

He said that both the assistant coach and the director of basketball operations (or administration) positions would hopefully be named at the same time.

"We're 90-percent our mind being made up, trying to work things out, and hopefully we'll offer contracts in a week."

Reports have had Kevin Ollie as the prime candidate for the assistant coach position, and Glen Miller as the leader in the clubhouse fro the director of basketball administration job.

"Glenn Miller's name is a good name, someone I'd be very interested in. You can go with Dave Leitao, you can go with Kevin Ollie ... it's been a period of time where a lot of our former players have reached out and come back. We want to be, in all aspects, the UConn that everybody knows. And I think we are, but we want to have everybody come back to show that."

***Calhoun was asked if he'd talked to Tom Izzo, whom he's often labeled a "dear friend," lately.

"I talked to Tom before it all started ... he said, 'What do you think?' I said, 'Well, I've been in that position, not financially that you're in but close to it, and it wasn't for me. It might be for him. I think he'd be very good."

***Calhoun said the Charlotte Bobcats recently called him about both Jerome Dyson and Gavin Edwards, and that Scott Howard-Cooper of was recently at the Chris Paul Camp and said that Kemba Walker was "the best point guard there, far and away ... which is awfully nice to here."

***Calhoun believes his annual bike ride this past Saturday will end up raising between $500,000 and $700,000.

***As to Calhoun's relationship with Price Chopper: "They're a family-run business. There aren't many left anymore. I want to do things in Connecticut with people ... Price Chopper has become our bellweather sponsor as we go through the Cancer Challenge, the Celebrity Challenge in August, the food drive in December."

He noted that Price Chopper has donated well over $100,000 to those causes.

"When I speak for Webster Bank, obviously I believe in Webster, but I work for Webster. I don't work for Price Chopper, so it makes a great relationship. We're doing this as a community effort."

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Calhoun in Bristol

Jim Calhoun was a featured speaker tonight at a fundraiser at Bristol Central High School that benefited the Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center, a Bristol-based center that helps children with autism.

Calhoun and Dan Doyle, the former Trinity College hoops coach and founder of the Institute for International Sport, gave speeches and took questions from the audience of about 250 inside the school's auditorium. Both men have had had autism directly affect their families (two of Calhoun's grandchildren have battled the affliction; Doyle has an autistic son).

"It's something near and dear to my heart, definitely," Calhoun said.

Here's some of what Calhoun had to say during the two-hour program:

***He spoke highly of UConn's five incoming freshmen. According to Calhoun:

Michael Bradley scored a 1300 on his SAT's and is a great shot-blocker, but will likely be a little raw this year. Calhoun noted that Bradley has lived in an orphanage in Chatanooga over the past few years after a falling-out with his mother, who encountered some tough times.

"About two years ago, his mother wanted to get re-involved with his life," Calhoun said. "He said, 'Mom, I love you dearly, but everything in my life is going great right now, and I want to keep it that way.'"

Tyler Olander "doesn't know it yet, but he has a chance to be an NBA player," according to Calhoun. "He can shoot it, he can run. He has no idea about the fact that he is very gifted."

Roscoe Smith is "tremendously talented, with a wingspan of 7-4 ... he's bigger and stronger, but not quite as athletic as Rudy Gay (was). He's a better shooter."

Jeremy Lamb "will be our best shooter. If he doesn't make it, here and beyond, I'll be very surprised.

And Shabazz Napier "is probably the best player int he class. He's special."

Take that all for what it's worth. We know things can get a bit exaggerated in the Nutmeg State over the summer.

***Ray Allen called him and wanted Calhoun to be at tonight's Celtics-Lakers game, but the coach told him he had a previous engagement.

***On last season: "We weren't as one last year. We should have won 24 games. We won 18. It won't happen again."

***Contrary to popular opinion, Calhoun insisted, he loves the UConn women's team. "Rebecca Lobo is a pioneer for women's sports," he said.

***Calhoun took a little shot at the media.

"People don't realize the impact they have when they just throw things out there," he said. He referenced a story about his final year at Northeastern, when he was about to take the job at UConn but the Boston Globe reported he was going to Arizona State.

Calhoun's sister called and asked why he was going to ASU. He told her it wasn't true, and she insisted it was, because it was in the Globe.

"Not everything in the Globe is true," he told her. "I know that, because I'm quoted in it."

***Calhoun isn't sure if he'll do 25 or 50 miles at his annual bike ride on Saturday in Simsbury.

"I'm ready to do 50," he insisted. "I did 50 the other day ... whatever my wife tells me to do."

***Calhoun wouldn't talk about the situation with the NCAA when asked by reporters.

***One final thing, and I think it's worth noting: Calhoun truly is a complicated figure. A foot-stomping, ref-baiting maniac at times on the sidelines who yells at reporters and, according to the NCAA, may have overseen a program that flouted recruiting rules.

Yet there's no doubt that his charitable work is 100-percent sincere, particularly with things close to his heart: the Franciscan Life Center, heart and cancer research, and autism.

"Out of the blue, we give him a call, he sees what we're trying to do, thinks it's a good cause, so he says 'Yes,' and comes," said Dave Mills, president of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. "Not many people would do that ... He's here tonight because of the good man that he is. He's not here for any publicity, etc. He's here for the right reasons, because he has a good heart."

With that in mind:

The Connecticut Bar Association will award Calhoun with this year's Distinguished Public Service Award on Monday, June 14 at the Convention Center in Hartford.

Each year, CBA awards the award to a high-profile Connecticut resident who has demonstrated public service and charity to the Connecticut Community.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This Year's Big East/SEC Invitational

No UConn in this year's Big East/SEC Invitational, but here's how the event will unfold this year:

The fourth annual DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational will be held Dec. 8 and 11 in Louisville and Pittsburgh.

The two-night event begins with a doubleheader Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Freedom Hall in Louisville, featuring Arkansas vs. Seton Hall at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, followed by Kentucky vs. Notre Dame at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

On Saturday, Dec. 11, at the brand new CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Rutgers will take on Auburn on ESPN2, followed by Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee on ESPN. Game times for the Pittsburgh site will be announced at a later date.

The matchup of Kentucky and Notre Dame revisits a long tradition at Freedom Hall. The teams have met 32 times at the historic venue, the first game being played in January, 1937. In the overall series, Kentucky holds a 41-18 edge on Notre Dame.

Teams invited to participate in the DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.

The BIG EAST holds a 7-5 record in the first three years of the Big East/SEC Invitational.

Calhoun rides again

The annual Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk will be held on Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center in Simsbury.

The ride is open to everyone. There will be non-competitive rides of 10, 25, 50 and 75 miles, and a 5K walk/run. The day will culminate with a massive barbeque, hosted by House of Barbeque, and music by the Timmy Maia Band, one of the Mohegan Sun’s house bands. The public is welcome to attend the barbeque, even if you haven’t competed in the ride/walk.

Many of Calhoun’s former players and current and former assistants are expected to participate. Past regulars have included Donny Marshall, Kevin Ollie, Scott Burrell and Ray Allen – though Mr. Allen appears to be otherwise engaged right now.

Also expect Tom Moore and Andre LaFleur to be there. Past regular Patrick Sellers? Don’t think so.

Last year, of course, Calhoun competed in the 50-mile ride. Midway through the race, he fell off his bike and broke several ribs. Calhoun finished the race, but passed out shortly afterwards.

This year, Calhoun has been asked to do the 25-mile race. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t opt for the longer distance.

Jim’s wife, Pat, will lead the 5K walk.

Also, don’t forget that Calhoun’s annual alumni all-star game is slated for Saturday, Aug. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena. Tickets go on sale the week after next ($29 for lower bowl seats, $22 for upper bowl seats) at the Mohegan Sun box office or at TicketMaster.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Calhoun: 'Truth Will Win Out'

If Jim Calhoun is worried that the NCAA will come down hard on UConn, he’s hardly showing it. And it doesn’t appear to be simply a brave face he’s putting on. Calhoun seems to sincerely believe his program will come out of this without any crippling damage.

“I truly believe at the end, when it’s all said and done, the truth will win out,” he said at Tuesday's 25th Franciscan Sports Banquet, held at Southington's Aqua-Turf Club and his first public appearance since Friday‘s press conference. “I don’t go into this with great fear. There was an article written (by Yahoo ! Sports), the NCAA came in, looked at us for 15 months in every aspect of our program and made certain allegations. At the end of the day, I’m not telling you everything is going to be just fine and dandy, but … I think we had one of the better recruiting classes we’ve had in quite some time. People in our program our positive. A few mistakes were made, and we’ll go forward.”

He added: “There is nothing else to do in life, whether you fall off a bike and break a couple of ribs, you’ve got to get back on it. You’ve got to know who you are and what we’ve done. I know who I am, and I know what we have done. Do I know every single intimate detail? Obviously not. But I truly believe I know who I am …”

Numerous celebrities from the sports world were on hand on Tuesday, including Hamden’s George Grande, the former ESPN anchor and longtime baseball play-by-play man who received the Saint Francis Award. ESPN anchor Chris Berman, former UConn assistant and current CCSU head man Howie Dickenman and UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway were there, as well.

Oh, and this was interesting: also in the house was was Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore, the former UConn assistant.

There seems to be no ill will towards Moore, and no visible panic from Calhoun or Hathaway about the program’s future. Rather, Calhoun is upbeat about the future -- some of which has already arrived in Storrs.

Calhoun wouldn't comment on colleague Dave Solomon's report that UConn is set to hire Kevin Ollie as an assistant to replace Patrick Sellers, who recently resigned.

“We’re not discussing any personnel matters. Right now, I think the job was posted. We’ve got to hope over the next 10, 11 days, we’ll have an opportunity to name somebody as an assistant. That’s the first place we’d head. I think we’ll have to look at that director of basketball operations position a little bit different. They have more contact with the university. We have some very experienced and very good people in their own positions right now.”

“It’s procedural right now, and any comment by anybody could hurt the process, because what happens then, someone could feel it was an unfair search. That’s happened before.”

“Right now, no one has been offered the job, no one has been named … I think we’re going to do a good job of replacing Pat, who I love dearly, and then Beau’s position will be replaced second.”

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Heard it Through the Grapevine ...

A few things we've been hearing through the grapevine lately:

***UConn has one official visit left to offer, and it appears it will be getting one from a recruit from Germany in the near future. (Sorry, no name to offer).

***The Huskies expect two players to transfer out of the program. It's looking like Jamaal Trice and Darius Smith, though nothing's official. Jon Mandeldove? Still a question mark for next season, as well.

***Beau Archibald to BYU? Maybe.

***Looks like the Huskies will open next season against Steve Pikiell and his Stony Brook Sea Wolves.

More later ...

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"We Were Only Freshmen ..."

Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander and Michael Bradley were on campus today. Napier and Bradley are slated to begin first-session summer classes, while Olander will take second-session classes starting June 28. First, he's got to graduate from E.O. Smith High School right next door, on June 18.

Napier says his reclassification from Class of 2011 to 2010 is complete, and he'll be ready to go for UConn this fall. He says he had to withdraw from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., about a month ago and re-enroll at Charlestown High, where he started his high school career five years ago. Had he stayed at Lawrence, Napier says he wouldn't have been able to re-classify. But the Roxbury native says he was able to return to Charlestown High and, recently, graduate from the school.

Napier spent three years at Charlestown High (he tried to transfer to Tilton School in New Hampshire as a sophomore, where he would have been teammates with Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Alex Oriakhi, but it fell through), then two at Lawrence Academy. When he first went to Lawrence, he was bumped down two grades and re-classified as a sophomore. He was a junior this past season, and would have been a senior next year at Lawrence.

Confused? Well, bottom line is, he's now at UConn, ready for summer courses and, of course, honing his game.

"My main focus is hitting the weights, getting my teammates better: getting them up real early to do running, doing stairs, and getting everyone focused," said Napier, a 6-foot point guard. "Even though I’m a freshman, I’m a point guard, which means you have to be a leader on the court, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the game. It’s a big role when you take over as a point guard on a big stage like the Big East.”

(Yup, that's Geno Auriemma shooting hoops in the background)

He's certainly got a good example of that in new teammate Kemba Walker.

“He’s the teacher," Napier said. "He’s teaching me stuff, I’m learning from it. We play on separate teams, so I’m learning stuff on defense and on offense. I’m learning the way he gets in the lane. There’s a lot to learn from a guy like him.”

Napier envisions sharing court time with Walker often this season.

“He told me he wants to be more of a two-guard. I think that’s better for him to be a two-guard. He gets in the lane and scores, his shot’s getting so much better. As you can see, in past history, UConn was good when it had two guards running the floor. I think it’s giong to be best for him, and also the team. My role is to basically do whatever I can to help the team out.”

Napier added that he's a born leader.

“You’ve got to have it in you. It comes from within. Not a lot of people have it, that’s why I think I separate myself from a lot of point guards.”

Oh, and as to the NCAA's recent findings that UConn has allegedly committed eight violations?

“It doesn’t affect me at all, it’s not really my ballpark," said Napier. "It’s not something I should be worried about. They brought me here for two things -- school and basketball. Anything else, I’ll leave it in their hands.”

Likewise, Olander isn't worried about potential sanctions.

"It’s nothing really with this team we have here," said the Mansfield native. "That’s the coaches’ deal, they’re going to deal with it. We’re just going to play and try to win a national championship. It doesn’t affect the team we have now at all.”

Olander, a 6-foot-9 left-hander, certainly boasts a sweet stroke -- as evidenced in this video during a workout on Tuesday at Gampel:
He calls himself a "face-up four," and while his shooting is something the Huskies certainly could use, he's ready to help the team in any way possible.

"I’m ready to experience the whole thing and ready to get going, so I can have as much impact as I can next season to try to help the team get going. Whatever I can (do), so I can be as versatile as I can: inside, outside, rebounding, whatever the team needs."

***Also, Jamaal Trice and Darius Smith were at Gampel today. Didn't get a chance to talk to them, but obviously neither has transferred, to this point

***Who sang the song "The Freshman," that's referenced in the title of this blog?

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