Thursday, April 17, 2014

Omar Calhoun Isn't Going Anywhere

No word yet on whether DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright will be returning to UConn for their senior seasons. But there seems no doubt that Omar Calhoun will be back for his junior year and isn't looking to transfer.

While Calhoun essentially already confirmed this a few weeks ago during the East Regional semifinals and finals at Madison Square Garden, it's always good to check in with his dad, Omar, Sr., who (obviously) is a very influential figure in his life.

Omar, Sr. pretty much echoed what his son had said in New York.

"My confidence in Coach Ollie never wavered," Omar, Sr., said on Thursday. "I believe me and Coach Ollie have the same love and passion for the game. I truly believe in the stuff he teaches to his kids.

"He wants you playing to your potential on the floor. He’s got a lot of Coach Calhoun in him, too, and a lot of the great coaches he’s been around, too. He wants you playing to your potential. That’s how he wants you on the floor. Omar understands that, he’s gonna work extremely hard, and he’s healthy now. I think he’s heading back in the right direction. That’s the beautiful thing about basketball, it increases your value and your character if you grow as a human being and a basketball player. Obviously, at times, he wanted to see more minutes, like at the Garden. But I totally understand what Coach Ollie was doing, the situation he was in."

Keep in mind, any transfer talk regarding Calhoun this winter was pure, 100-percent speculation. But it was certainly on people's minds. It was on my mind, as his playing time
decreased so much that he played a total of four minutes in UConn's six NCAA tournament games. It probably was on Omar's mind, too.

"I'm pretty sure it crossed his mind," Omar, Sr. said. "But the situation he was in, he was always prepared in case his number was called. He wished he was out there, these are kids. But when it's all said and done, Kevin Ollie is a tremendous guy to be driving the bus. He accepted the challenge."

Omar, Sr. also pointed out that, not only did his son have off-season surgery on both hips that prevented him from working out until about October, but he also had smaller injuries throughout the season that hurt his production: a pair of turned ankles early in the season ("one time, Shabazz tried an alley-oop, and he coldn't even get off the ground because of his nagging ankle injury," his dad noted), a sore shoulder and a concussion that kept him out of a couple of games in mid-February.

But he's completely healthy now and ready to get back to the player he was. Omar, Sr. noted that there's one major reason his son was able to handle his tough times so well this season.

"He had the support of his family. I know basketball, I know right from wrong. A lot of parents don't. They fall into the trap. I never wavered from Coach Ollie. I told Omar to stay positive, stay ready. His number wasn't called. But if it was called, I'm pretty sure he would've helped out in the moment. But he's gonna accept this challenge. You can't run from challenges. Coach Ollie preaches perfection. I think (Omar) can make a nice living in the NBA, because he's gonna be prepared. He's gonna be a survivor, someone who knows what it takes when things are good, and when things are bad."

"I wouldn't trade this experience for the world," Omar, Sr. added. "Obviously, he would've loved to see more minutes. But he went through a great deal, and when he comes back next year, he'll be ready."

And, he'll be coming back as a UConn Husky.

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