Mamadou Diarra, Taurean Thompson, Christian Vital at Jordan Brand Classic regional game
THOMPSON (who is taking an official to UConn on Monday, his third official):
“I don’t know a lot about UConn. I know (Daniel) Hamilton just left. I talked to the assistant coaches briefly, I haven’t really talked to (Kevin) Ollie yet. He’s been busy. But when I get there, they’ll let me know what’s going on.”
“After UConn, if it doesn’t feel right, I’m gonna keep brainstorming and use my last two officials.”
Thompson was named Team New York's MVP on Friday after shooting 13-for-15 from the floor for 27 points and 13 boards.
(on persuading Thompson to come to UConn)
“I was just talking to him in the locker room about it, ‘you’ve got to come to UConn. He’s taking his visit Monday, so hopefully he likes it.”
Diarra, who scored 19 points in Team New York's 148-128 victory on Friday, said he'll likely arrive on UConn's campus around May 31. He's been working on getting stronger and "stepping out a little bit, making jump shots, stretching my game out a little."
But he knows his bread-and-butter will be rebounding and shot-blocking.
“That’s my niche, that’s what I’m gonna need to do to get on the floor. That’s what I’ll keep on doing. Our leading rebounder last year was Daniel Hamilton, and he’s out, too. So that’s a big role that’s missing. They’re gonna need that.”
(on Hamilton's departure to the NBA)
“I’m a little surprised ... He’s good, but players come and players go. That’s just a part of the game. There’s a lot of other guys on the team that can step up and play, like Terry Larrier, Vance Jackson.”
The Queens Village, New York product, played AAU ball with Larrier, knows Jalen Adams from playing prep ball in New England and said Steve Enoch is “my beat friend.”
“I just spoke to him the other day, he told me to get ready for my visit,” Vital reported. “And Coach Ollie is a really great guy, too. You can see how genuine he is about his players. That’s why he shows so much emotion when coaching on the sidelines. And being in Connecticut, UConn is on a lot. When I’m scrolling through the channels, I’m able to watch them play.”
Vital said it's down to UConn, Louisville and Iowa - though it appears UConn and Louisville are the leaders. He'll visit both soon (UConn early next week).Vital spoke glowingly of Louisville.
“You grow up watching Coach Pitino, he’s a great coach,” Vital said. “I can tell he has a lot of great character. A lot of things, as we know, happened down at Louisville, and I am aware of that and I’m thinking about that in my decision. But I don’t feel like you should ever judge someone just because they sin differently than you. Whatever did happen over there, no one’s perfect. They definitely took the steps to get ahead of their sanctions by saying ‘no postseason’ last year and getting rid of scholarships. Coach Pitino can’t come down and see me, that’s part of it ... And also national championships ... I want to compete for a national championship.”