Monday, June 25, 2012

Omar Calhoun: 'I Was With UConn at Beginning, I'm Going to End Up With Them, Too' (w/video)

UConn's two incoming freshmen, Omar Calhoun and Phil Nolan, have arrived on campus. Summer courses begin today for freshmen and run through early August.

I did a story on Nolan last week, and had a chance to catch up with Omar today, shortly after he began his coursework and had a physical (he's 6-foot-5, people).

Calhoun committed to UConn a year ago and sent in his letter of intent in November. Around that same time, the NCAA announced its APR penalties that will leave the Huskies out of the 2013 NCAA postseason.

The $64,000 question, of course, is whether Calhoun ever reconsidered his commitment to UConn (yes, I know at that point he would have had to been released from his scholarship).

"I considered different things like that, a lot of things that had pro's and con's that I was looking at," he admitted. "But we have a family here at Connecticut, and you can't leave your family. That's the way I thought about it. I was with them at the beginning, I'm going to end up with them, too."

He added: "The way I think about it is, you don't need the tournament, really, to showcase what you want. You have the whole season to do that, so that's what I'm here to do."

Here's some of what else Calhoun had to say on Monday (the young man doesn't lack in confidence):

(his strengths)

"I'm a competitor, I like to win. Shooting the ball, plus I can run the court. (I'm a) combo guard, I can play on the ball, off the ball, different positions, (play) defense, (be a) team leader, (be) vocal, different attritubes to win the game."

(known as a pure scorer, how he scores the ball)

"I can do everything. I can shoot the ball well, get to the rim both ways. I'm athletic, I can play above the rim. I can find guys, I can pull-up with the mid-range. It's hard to stop me."

(Can he be a vocal leader right off the bat as a freshman?)

"Yeah, definitely. It might take some time, getting accustomed to my teammates. But on the court, we're all basketball players, so I know how to put the game of basketball to my guys. That's what I'm gonna do."

(on what the coaching staff said of his potential for major minutes immediately)

"They just want to see me come here, work hard, be a leader, see me focused when I come in. That's what I'm here to do."

(on his sister, Sierra, who'll be a junior next season at Christ the King High in New York)

"She's a top-notch player. She's looking at Connecticut, too."

(on what it means to see Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb as likely lottery picks Thursday night, and all the other players UConn has sent to the NBA over the years)

"It just means that (Jim Calhoun) can get guys better. Guys buy into what he's saying, what he wants. You can be real successful."

*** One other think worth noting: it appears that, the denial of Michael Bradley's "hardship" request to transfer to Western Kentucky will likely hurt UConn's APR. If he had been able to play right away (like Alex Oriakhi will be able to, for different reasons), Bradley would have been a 3-for-3 last season at UConn -- two points for good academic standing in both semesters and one for retention in the first semester. The second semester retention point would have been waived, since it would have been viewed that he essentially had to transfer.

But since Bradley must sit out a year, UConn loses his retention point for the second semester. Hope that makes sense.

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