Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sid Wilson leaves St. John's; UConn should be back in picture

Sid Wilson has decided to transfer from St. John’s after taking summer courses at the school, and UConn would be one of his logical next destinations.

Wilson, a 6-foot-7 forward from the Bronx, was down to St. John’s, UConn and Texas when he made his decision to join the Red Storm in May. But, according to a source, Wilson was never truly happy at St. John’s from the start of summer classes.

Wilson lost his mother, Pauline, in March, 2015, and that seems to be one of the main reasons he decided to stay close to home.

“But, unfortunately, I recently realized it was not what is best for me at this time to manage adversity in my life,” he said in a statement.

Wilson played three years at St. Raymond’s High in the Bronx before transferring to Brewster Academy, where he planned on spending two years. However, this past spring he elected to re-classify and, ultimately, sign with St. John’s.

Wilson’s primary option at this point would seem to be to sign with another school and sit out a year as a transfer, since he already took summer courses at St. John’s. It’s not unprecedented for players to take summer classes at a college and then return to prep school. In fact, Jakarr Sampson and Ron Patterson did so at Brewster, though there were extenuating circumstances – Sampson didn’t get through the NCAA Eligibility Center, and Indiana had oversigned for Patterson’s recruiting class.

As a full-qualifier who has already taken college courses, it seems unlikely Wilson would be able to return to Brewster or any other prep school.

Stay tuned …

Meanwhile, Jalen Carey has arrived on campus for his official visit to UConn. The Class of 2018 point guard is a highly-coveted recruit for the Huskies.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Some dates to look forward to for UConn fans

There may not be a First Night at UConn this year, but that doesn’t mean the school won’t be doing something to get students and fans revved up for the 2017-18 season.

What that will be remains to be seen, but the athletic department is in the early planning stages of putting together something – no one’s really sure what quite yet.
The main problem, of course, is the venue. While work on Gampel Pavilion’s roof is on schedule and will be completed by the time the schedule begins in early November, it likely won’t be done by the time First Night usually rolls around in mid-October. Hence, no First Night this year.

But be on the lookout for some type of announcement in the coming weeks. What that event will be, where it will be held, who will partake – all questions that remain to be answered.

Work on Gampel Pavilion's roof back in late-June. It's a lot better now.
Meanwhile, Tyler Polley and Eric Cobb, who had other things to take care of over the summer, have arrived on UConn’s campus. The rest of the team, including recent signee Kwintin Williams, who also hasn’t made it to campus yet, will arrive by this weekend. Classes start on Monday.

Here are some concrete dates for UConn fans to mark on their calendars:

Week of Sept. 4 – The AAC should release its schedule sometime this week. UConn's will likely follow a day or two after. The league met with officials from CBS and ESPN last Thursday to lock up some national games. Now, it’s just a matter of going over with athletic directors, coaches, etc. about whether those dates and times work, or if anything needs to be shifted. One complication this year is that Houston and Cincinnati will both be playing all their games away from home due to arena renovations. Houston will play most of its games on the Texas Southern campus but a few at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, home of the Rockets. Cincy, meanwhile, will play all its games on the Northern Kentucky campus.

Also this week, UConn will be holding a "Meet the Newcomer" event for the press. This will give media types a chance to find out a bit about the new players and tell their stories to interested readers.

Wednesday, Sept. 27 – The annual Husky Run should take place on this date. This year’s route around campus may be a little different, due to construction.

Saturday, Sept. 30 – First practice. Teams begin practicing six weeks before their first game. That actually means the Huskies could start on Friday, Sept. 29, but Kevin Ollie typically likes to start that Saturday morning.

Monday, Oct. 16 – AAC Media Day. This will be held in Philadelphia for the second straight year. The general public probably doesn’t care, but it’s a good time for media to talk to players and coaches from around the league as the season approaches.

Monday, Oct. 30 – UConn’s first exhibition game. No, not against the University of St. Joseph. It’ll be against Merrimack, though not sure if it’ll be in Storrs or Hartford just yet.

Tuesday, Nov. 14 – The Huskies will play Stony Brook in their only previously-unannounced non-conference game. Again, not sure if it will be in Storrs or Hartford yet.

Meanwhile, on the recruiting front, UConn will be getting a visit from coveted point guard Jalen Carey out of New Jersey. The Huskies were in on Carey early so they should feel good about where they stand with him.

Other potential visits over the next few weeks include Tyron Brewer of Mississippi, Keyontae Johnson out of Oak Hill Academy and Andrew Nembhard out of Montverde Academy in Florida.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

What NBA player cares more about their hometown than Andre Drummond?

Andre Drummond is still just a big kid at heart. Case in point:

But he takes his status as an NBA star and a role model seriously, and he's always giving back. One of his chief beneficiaries is his hometown of Middletown, specifically the Middlesex YMCA. He was back there on Friday, handing out 300 backpacks stuffed with school supplies and signing 100 basketballs for a long line of local kids.

Here's the story we wrote about the event. (By the way, he'll be playing in the Osgood Shootout at New Britain High on Saturday at 3 p.m., if you're interested).

And here are a few more photos:


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Andre Drummond keeps giving back to his community

We're reminded again about what a good person Andre Drummond is.

Drummond will be at the Middlesex YMCA in Middletown on Friday, Aug. 18. The first 300 children in attendance will receive a backpack with school supplies, while the first 100 kids will receive an autographed basketball. The event, which will run from 6-8 p.m., is open to the public.

Drummond, who will be accompanied by longtime friend from Middletown Mike Boornazian, has previously donated $10,000 to the Middlesex Y. That money funded Andre’s Allstars, a program open to youth over the age of 12 which currently provides support to over 30 participants. All participants receive a complimentary membership and academic support with tutoring sessions on Tuesday evenings, during the school year, through a partnership with Wesleyan University Volunteer Tutors.

The funding has also provided an opportunity for additional programming such as basketball skill clinics and S.T.O.R.M.Y Nights (Spend Time Out Relaxing at the Middlesex Y), a program designed to bring middle school kids into the Y for supervised activities on select Fridays. Many Andre's Allstars scholarship recipients have also participated in this summer's youth basketball league.

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity Andre has created for youth in this community," said Middlesex YMCA teen coordinator Craig Chivers. "So many of the Andre’s Allstars Scholarship recipients really need a safe space to get away and focus their energy. It’s such an impressionable age, so it’s important that we continue to provide a positive outlet. I think we’re beginning to truly develop future leaders and establishing a sense of community for the youth here at the Middlesex Y."

Drummond also was recently named a global ambassador for the Special Olympics.

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