Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Look at UConn targets Jalen Adams, Josh Sharma, Steve Enoch

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand basketball. Or basketball recruiting.

But Josh Sharma's dad just so happens to be a rocket scientist. Well, an aeronautical engineer, to be exact. And his mom's a psychiatrist. The point? Sharma comes from good, well-educated stock.

Oh, and the 7-footer from Lexington, Mass. isn't too bad at basketball, either.

Sharma, a Class of 2015 center who plays at Northfield Mount Hermon and with Mass Rivals AAU, took an unofficial visit to UConn on Tuesday. He accompanied his AAU teammate, guard Jalen Adams, but the two are not -- repeat, not -- a package deal.

"Absolutely not," said Mass Rivals coach Vin Pastore. "It just so happened I was taking Jalen to Connecticut and I said (to Sharma), why don't you and your mom go down? It was more out of convenience than anything else. What's best for one might not be the best for the other."

Still, it seems both players are tailor-made for UConn. We've already chronicled just how perfect a fit it would appear Adams would be for the Huskies. The '15 guard from Roxbury is profoundly clutch and is a born leader, on top of his terrific talent. Sound like anyone we know?

"He's an electrifying guy," said Pastore. "He's super-talented and he's extremely athletic. That may be a potential separator from Shabazz (Napier)."

Pastore has grown up following UConn basketball. He's a Massachusetts guy, but former Mass Rival/UConn recruit Scott Hazelton grew up in his home.

"Jalen's a super athlete with great understanding of the game, and the kid's a winner," Pastore said. "He's a UConn type of guy. It would be pretty hard (for UConn) not to be high on his list. They're coming off a national championship, the freedom they give their guards to play, the fact Shabazz just graduated and is going to the NBA as a Boston kid himself. I think a lot of things make UConn look awfully good for a kid like Jalen."

Then there's Sharma.

"He's a 7-footer that can run and catch," Pastore said. "He's got a size-15 foot that's small compared to the size of his body. That's why he moves so gracefully and runs so nice. He plays above the rim and challenges you at the rim. A lot of people look at him as fitting the UConn style of play."

Sharma arrived at Northfield Mount Hermon two years ago after only playing a couple of minutes a game at Lexington High. Now, he's one of the top players in the country.

"I think that's part of the improvements he's made, but it also says that there's a lot of upside to his game, too," said Northfield Mount Hermon coach John Carroll. "He’s as athletic as it comes. We’ve coached 60 D-1 kids and he’s probably the most athletic kid we’ve coached at 7-foot.”

Carrolll continued: "When I really knew he was different was, early on, when he was going up for a layup, it looked like his only option, and he decided to try something else and went up on the other side reversing it. That was last thing we thought he’d wind up doing. I said to my assistant, he’s gonna show us stuff we’ve never seen before because of his athleticism. We have to keep an open mind, see what he's capable of and then coach, not coach restricting what his creativity is."

Carroll said he lets Sharma shoot 3's because he's proven he can hit them, and also has a good jump-hook in his repertoire and is studying great face-up guys like Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant to model his skills after them.

"The fun part about coaching him is that the conversation his brain has with his body is pretty elite," Carroll noted. "Give him instruction, he'll do it immediately."

And like his parents, who recently moved from Lexington to Hawaii, Sharma is smart, too. He recently scored a 31 on his ACT's, according to Carroll (the high score is 36).

Carroll said Sharma's visit to UConn was great and that he had visited Boston College the day before. This summer, he's planning a Midwest tour to see Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan. The only official he's made so far has been to Wisconsin, back in January.

*** Meanwhile, UConn offered an in-state kid on Tuesday: Steve Enoch, a 6-9 power forward out of Norwalk who's generated a lot of buzz lately.

“Steve has been playing competitive basketball for about two years," said Drew Gladstone, who coaches Enoch on the High Rise-Team Up AAU team. "He’s a late-bloomer. He's still coming into his body so he has tremendous upside, it’s really pretty scary. He’s still kind of defining his role as a player, he can shoot the ball probably better than anybody. He just has a really pure shot. He's incredibly skilled, he works out every single day, hitting the weights."

Gladstone added that Enoch sports a 3.3 GPA. He took an unofficial to UConn about a month ago, but it's still a bit too early for Enoch, who doesn't turn 17 until the end of September, to start narrowing down visits and lists.

*** Another Northefield Mount Hermon player, 6-8 Class of '16 forward A.J. Brodeur, is also on UConn's radar, though the Huskies haven't stepped up with an offer yet.

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