Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Big day for UConn recruiting on Thursday; Jalen Adams, Steve Enoch, Tremont Waters, Omari Spellman in New Haven next week

Thursday is a big day for UConn on the recruiting front. Isaiah Briscoe, Derrick Jones and Tevin Mack, all coveted Husky targets, will be announcing their respective collegiate decisions.

Ultimately, it could be a day of disappointment for UConn. All signs point to Briscoe signing with either Kentucky or hometown St. John's. Jones seems to be leaning towards UNLV, though UConn and Auburn are very much in the mix, while Mack is down to VCU and UConn.

But even if the Huskies lose out on all three recruits -- and it's no sure thing that they will -- it doesn't necessarily mean all doom and gloom in Storrs. Diamond Stone, one of the top-rated big men in the Class of 2015, is expected to make his commitment next week, right after the early signing period expires on Nov. 19. Stone, a Milwaukee native, is down to UConn and hometown Wisconsin. From everyone I've talked to, it's really 50-50, but it appears Stone might be UConn's best shot of the above-mentioned recruits.

And if Stone commits to UConn, that could re-open the path to Malik Newman heading to the Huskies, as well. Newman, the No. 3-rated player in his class, per rivals.com, stated last spring that he and Stone would be a package deal. Since then, both players have wavered off the package deal talk. But if, say, Briscoe goes to Kentucky, and Antonio Blakeny does, as well, there might not be room for Newman at UK. Could that open the door for Newman to reconsider that "package deal" and join Stone, if Stone chooses UConn?

A lot will be decided Thursday evening.

*** As for Class of 2015 players who we already know WILL be heading to UConn next season, local fans can see two of them in action at the 2014 National Prep Showcase Nov. 21-23 at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

The team to see at this event will be Brewster Academy, which features a backcourt of UConn-bound Jalen Adams, Donovan Mitchell (Louisville), Justin Simon (Arizona) and David Crisp (Washington).

"That's probably the best backcourt in high school basketball," said ESPN recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein. "I think that's fair to say."

Add to that a front line of Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown), Alex Illikainen (Minnesota) and Jarred Reuter (Virginia), and Brewster is must-see entertainment.

Brewster begins play on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4:30 p.m. against St. John's NW Military Academy (Wisc.). Brewster's second game is on Sunday, Nov. 23, against New Jersey's Coastal Academy at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, fellow UConn pledge Steve Enoch will lead St. Thomas More into action. St. Thomas More will face Elev8 Academy (Fla.) on Friday, Nov. 21, at 3:30 p.m., and Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 9:30 a.m.

There will be some other players with offers from UConn, including New Haven's own Tremont Waters, a Class of 2017 guard who plays at South Kent Prep, and Omari Spellman, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound  Class of 2016 power forward out of MacDuffie School near Springfield, Mass.

South Kent plays Fishburne Military Academy on Friday at noon, then Vermont Academy on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. MacDuffie's lone game is on Friday at 1:45 p.m. against Hargrave Military Acadmy.

Other top-rated prospects in the event will be New Hampton School's Tyler Lydon (Syracuse); Our Savior New American big man Cheick Diallo; Vermont Academy's Tyrique Jones of Bloomfield and Bruce Brown; Elev8 Academy's Travon Reed; IMG Academy's JaQuan Lyle; and Hargreaves' Daniel Purefoy, KeJuan Johnson and Justin Goode.

For those not heading to Puerto Rico to watch UConn play, here's the schedule, with games featuring Adams, Enoch, Waters and Spellman in bold:

Friday, November 21st

10:30a.m. Fork Union Military Academy (VA) vs. Notre Dame Prep (MA)
12:00p.m. Fishburne Military Academy (VA) vs. South Kent (CT)
1:45p.m. Hargrave Military Academy (VA) vs. MacDuffie (MA)
3:30p.m. ELEV-8 Academy (FL) vs. St. Thomas More (CT)
5:15p.m. Lee Academy (ME) vs. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
7:00p.m. IMG Academy (FL) vs. Putnam Science Academy (CT)
8:30p.m. Our Savior New American (NY) vs. Cushing Academy (MA)

Saturday, November 22nd

9:30a.m. St. Thomas More (CT) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (VA)
11:15a.m. Notre Dame Prep (MA) vs. Fishburne Military Academy (VA)
1:00p.m. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
2:45p.m. vs. New Hampton School (NH) vs. ELEV-8 Academy (FL)
4:30p.m. Brewster Academy (NH) vs. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI)
6:15p.m. Bridgton Academy (ME) vs. West Oaks Academy (FL)
8:00p.m. Lee Academy (ME) vs. IMG Academy (FL)

Sunday, November 23rd

10:00a.m. Coastal Academy (NJ) vs. Brewster Academy (NH)
11:45a.m. West Oaks Academy (FL) vs. New Hampton School (NH)
1:30p.m. St. John’s NW Military Academy (WI) vs. Bridgton Academy (ME)
3:15p.m. Vermont Academy (VT) vs. South Kent (CT)
5:00p.m. Blair Academy (NJ) vs. Tilton School (NH)
6:30p.m. Mt. Zion (MD) vs. Wilbraham & Monson (MA)

I'd love to be there myself, but I'll be with the Huskies in Puerto Rico.

*** On a final note, Craig Austrie will be inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame's UConn wing on Thursday night:

The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame has announced its next class of honorees to be recognized in the Hall of Fame’s University of Connecticut wing, which pays tribute to athletes from the county that went on to stellar careers at the state university. The UConn wing is housed at the UConn Stamford Campus.

Three natives of Stamford will be recognized November 13 at 6 p.m. at the Stamford campus: Craig Austrie (men's basketball), Bruno Giordano, (cross country and indoor/outdoor track) and Rick Robustelli (football). With the induction of its three newest members, the UConn Wing now has 27 athletes enshrined.

Austrie played four seasons for the men's basketball team (2005-09). He played a key role in leading the Huskies to a spot in the Final Four his senior year. He was the starting point guard for the first 24 games of his freshman season, after a standout scholastic career at Trinity Catholic, where he was the state Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005.

Giordano, the former mayor and parks and recreation superintendent of Stamford, was an All-American cross country runner and a star on the indoor and outdoor track teams as a one and two mile distance standout . He attended UConn from 1947-51 and was the captain of the cross country squad his junior and senior years. He finished sixth at the national collegiate meet in 1951 to earn his All-American status.

Robustelli was a quarterback for the UConn football team from 1968-70 and is still in the top ten in school history in completions, yards passing and touchdowns (31). He was named to the All-Yankee Conference team in 1970. As a high school senior he earned All-State and All-American honors in leading Stamford Catholic to an undefeated season in 1966 as the Crusaders won the FCIAC and state championships.

The UConn wing of the Hall of Fame was started in 2007. Here is the list of the previous inductees: 2007 -- Moira & Tara Buckley (Trumbull, women’s soccer), Chris Smith (Bridgeport, men’s basketball), Brian Usher (Stamford, football); 2008 – Nick Giaquinto (Stratford, football), Paul & Tim Hunter (Westport, men’s soccer); 2009 – Rashamel Jones (Stamford, men’s basketball), Joe Markus (Trumbull, football), Tom Penders (Stratford, baseball and men’s basketball), Rita Williams (Norwalk, women’s basketball); 2010 – Mary Schmidt (Stamford, women’s swimming), Bob Staak (Darien, men’s basketball); 2011 – Donna Fagan (Norwalk, softball), Gregg Hutchings (Ridgefield, men’s ice hockey), Sean Mulcahy (Westport, football), Ken Murphy (Westport, men’s soccer); 2012 - Ryan Equale (Wilton, men's ice hockey), Rocco Murano (Greenwich, football), Robert Ross (Norwalk, men's soccer), Christine Vorvis (Fairfield, women's tennis); 2013 - Alison Hirsch (Stamford, softball), Mike McKay (Bridgeport, men's basketball), Jim Penders (Stratford, baseball).

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