Thursday, December 01, 2005


Projected 2006-2007 Roster:
Seniors: Marcus Williams (PG), Josh Boone (PF/C)
Juniors: Rudy Gay (SF)
Sophomores: AJ Price (G), Marcus Johnson (WG), Jeff Adrien (F), Craig Austrie (G), Robert Garrison (PG).
Freshmen: Curtis Kelly (BF/C), Jerome Dyson (G), Jonathan Mandeldove (C), Stanley Robinson (F), Ben Eaves (F), Doug Wiggins (PG)

With 14 players committed with 13 scholarships allowed, it is no secret that Connecticut will see some sort of roster shuffling in the offseason. They are still actively recruiting big men, such as Phil Jones, Mike Davis and Hamady N'Diaye to name three in particular, so it is safe to assume at least two or three players with eligibility will no longer be at Connecticut next year. The most obvious candidates are projected 1st round NBA draft hopefuls Rudy Gay, Josh Boone and Marcus Williams.

Currently, UConn has assembled the "Big Six" recruiting class with Doug Wiggins, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Ben Eaves, Curtis Kelly and Jonathan Mandeldove. Truthfully, I am not overwhelmed by any of the players individually, and do not expect any of them to seriously challenge for newcomer of the year status, but all six should make an impact.

Stanley Robinson is probably the player with the highest ceiling and the size and athletic ability to make the most impact next year. At 6'9, he will most often be thought of the heir-apparent to Rudy Gay as the tall, versatile wing, but Robinson does have a ways to go to get to Gay's level of play on the perimeter, but might be more ready to compete inside right away.

Curtis Kelly is an interesting candidate, the long and lean NYC product has the ability to be a special player, but he must maintain focus on and off the court to reach the awesome amount of potential he has. I think there is no better coach than Jim Calhoun to help a player (liek Charlie Villanueva) make this kind of transformation. But, like Villanueva, I do think the process will take some time.

Jonathan Mandeldove is a definite project. A year ago, Mandeldove was signed on with VCU and was a definite mid-major recruit. After averaging 12 pts as a senior in high school, he showed to be improved on the AAU circuit, but still has to add some polish to his offensive game and get stronger to handle the rigors of the Big East, but, in a couple years, Jim Calhoun probably will have another high draft pick if his rate of improvement can continue. Playing for a loaded prep team will also help him continue to get better prior to landing at UConn.

For guards, Jim Calhoun landed Doug Wiggins, the one time SJU commit, and Jerome Dyson. Both are going to be fine college players. Dyson will be a good scorer and be the kind of scoring 2-guard that can handle the ball that Calhoun has had a lot of success with. Wiggins will be another candidate to nail down the point guard position for the future. Although slight in frame, Wiggins has a knack for getting things done with his quickness and ability to run a team. He should be an excellent PG in the Big East.

The final recruit that signed in the spring was Ben Eaves, a 6'7 athletic forward who is originally from England. Eaves is still developing the finer points of the American game to play on the wing in college, but has some exciting long term potential to move into a prominent role for the Huskies in the future.

UConn has just about everything covered in this class with very capable recruits. They will all take some time learning the intricacies of the college game and meshing with their new teammates on what will be an extremely young UConn team next year, but the upside potential of this group is very good. Will they stick around long enough to realize the potential together is a good question. This season, UConn boasts 4 seniors and 2 key juniors, next year, there is a chance they have a team of only freshmen and sophomores.

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