Catching up with a few notes from last week, things I had been working on when the Jim Calhoun retirement broke, and other stuff …
Talked to Michael Beckles, who coaches Terrence Samuel at South Shore High in Brooklyn. … The team was 0-14 in its league the year before Samuel got there.
“He could have gone to any high school he wanted,” Beckles said, “but he chose to stay in his community and he basically turned this program around.”
South Shore has made long tournament runs the past couple of seasons. Beckles, who taught at the junior high when Samuel was there, says Samuel has dramatically raised his grades since going to South Shore, and is now a B-plus student trending upward. “Once he got to high school, he became more focused,” Beckles said. “He has really come a long way.”
Samuel committed to UConn during Labor Day weekend, and has remained solid in his commitment, as has Kentan Facey of Long Island Lutheran. UConn considers both strong “character kids.” Look for the UConn coaches to stay aggressive with them, and other commits, as they did with Omar Calhoun. It’s more important than ever with Kevin Ollie’s one-year contract/audition complicating things. After the Jim Calhoun retirement press conference, UConn folks put out a round of calls to various recruits and, we’re told, were encouraged by the response to Ollie being named, even on a one-year basis. Ollie has been building relationships with many of these players and their families for over a year, so in a sense he is the face of UConn for them right now.
In the commotion last week, UConn had to reschedule a couple of visits, to see New Jersey small forward Reggie Cameron and shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes; the latter tweeted on Friday that he had cut his list to UConn, Florida State and Illinois and would announce his decision in his hometown, Toronto, on Oct. 13. As Dave Borges of the New Haven Register is reporting, Ollie and Karl Hobbs, who is back on the road now, visited with Mayes on Wednesday and lined up an official visit to Storrs on Sept. 27.
Mayes’ stepfather, Tharon, was a high school star in New Haven in the early 1980s (and, yes, I’m old – I covered him as a high school player). Tharon went to Florida State, but is living in Connecticut, so Xavier has a choice between playing where Tharon Mayes played, or playing where Tharon Mayes can go watch him. It will be an interesting choice and could be a great get for UConn.
Kevin Ollie, and Geno Auriemma, will appear at the Jimmy V Classic Dinner in New York City on Oct. 10. Here are more details, by way of my pal John Altavilla’s blog.
As Jim Calhoun’s hip heals, he will throw himself into raising money for the basketball training facility. Don’t be surprised if this includes visiting NBA camps to encourage former Huskies to make donations.
Calhoun is scheduled to appear, with a host of star coaches, at the Brayden Carr Foundation Coaches Clinic this coming Friday, Sept. 21, at Rutgers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can e-mail info@braydencarrfoundation for more info.
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