Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A strong recruiting summer for UConn could get even stronger

Perhaps playing in the American Conference, as opposed to one of the so-called "power five" leagues, isn't hurting UConn as bad as originally thought.

The Huskies have already notched three Class of 2016 players, and they're good ones -- Mamadou Diarra, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Putnam Science Academy; Alterique Gilbert, a uniquely talented (if small) point guard out of Georgia; and, most recently, Tampa's Juwan Durham, a multi-faceted 6-10 forward who has drawn favorable comparisons to a young Donyell Marshall.

Sure, there are hundreds of players out there, and Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina can't swipe up all of them. Sure, it may have helped UConn that Durham missed much of his junior year after tearing the ACL in his right knee, though it appears most of the major programs still coveted the Tampa Prep star despite the injury.

But the fact of the matter is, the Huskies are welcoming three excellent players to the program next season -- and more top-notch talent could be on the way.

Wenyen Gabriel, one of the top-rated power forwards in the nation out of Wilbraham and Monson Academy, is slated to visit Storrs in a few weeks (Oct. 2-4). He's also highly sought-after by Kentucky, Duke, Maryland and Providence, but if the Huskies can get him to commit, it would really put their 2016 haul over the top.

Meanwhile, UConn is still very strong with a pair of top 2017 recruits: Zach Brown, a 7-footer out of Miami, and Hamadou Diallo, a shooting guard out from Putnam Science Academy who is close to current teammate Diarra.

UConn currently has one scholarship still open, which it could fill with a walk-on, as it has the past couple of seasons, or leave open in case any mid-season transfers become available. Otherwise, the Huskies will have at least four scholarships open up next season, with Sterling Gibbs, Shonn Miller, Omar Calhoun and Phil Nolan all graduating. It's certainly possible that Daniel Hamilton, Amida Brimah and/or Rodney Purvis could leave school early for the NBA after this season, as well.

With all that considered, the Huskies will likely have at least two, if not three or four more slots to fill for the 2016-17 season. A big man and a shooter top their wish list to fill out the Class of 2016 -- unless, of course, an extremely talented player at any other position suddenly becomes available. UConn could soon be getting a visit from 6-8 forward De'Ron Davis out of Colorado, who's getting a home visit from the Huskies this week.

Otherwise, the Huskies are looking at '17's and '18's, and could be getting a visit soon from Myles Powell out of South Kent School.

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