For Rodney Purvis, Coming To UConn was a Matter of ‘Style’

by Categorized: Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker, Kevin Ollie, Rodney Purvis, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, UConn men's basketball
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Perhaps there used to be a stigma attached to college basketball players who transferred, the perception that there must be some problem. But with more than 400 transfers this year moving around this year alone, it would be counterproductive for schools to think that way nowadays.

They can’t all have attitude problems.

Rodney Purvis, one of the top guards in the Class of 2012, left NC State, he says, not because he was unhappy with playing time or any of the coaches or the school. He averaged 25 minutes a game, but felt he just didn’t fit in with their style of play. He transferred to UConn on April 5.

“I didn’t fit as far as the offense,” Purvis said Thursday, after a workout. “Even the coaches told me, ‘our offense is really for guys who catch and shoot.’ I had to get somewhere where I could play my game, and that’s attacking, having fun, playing in transition. It was the style of play, that’s all.”

“It was really hard for anybody to find a role on that team. We had a lot of really good guys and it was hard to find a role. If you ain’t playing so good, the next guy is pretty good, too. I accepted it as a challenge. I got down in the middle of the season, and I had a terrible stretch, but I felt like I picked it back up toward the end of the year.”

 

Purvis nearly chose UConn in the first place because of its history of guard play, and he saw enough of coach Kevin Ollie’s style when the Wolfpack played UConn at Madison Square Garden in December to know it’s his style, too.

“It makes sense,” he said. “All the tradition, Kemba, Ray Allen. This is a guard school. [Ollie] just told me, the ball is going to be in my hands. And he’s got nothing to lie about. It has been proven with Boatright and Shabazz [Napier] and guys like that. The ball is in my court to get better.”

UConn recruited Purvis vigorously in the summer of 2011, but they got involved late. They saw him play once, he said, and offered a scholarship, and Jim Calhoun would call.

“… I preferred to talk to coach Calhoun in person,” Purvis said, “Because over the phone, I really couldn’t understand him. He’d ask me questions, and I just said, ‘yes, yes,’ but I didn’t know what he was asking?”

They did meet in person in August 2011, and UConn nearly had Purvis. But in the end he chose to stay in his home town. He encountered some distractions there, but says he will always love Raleigh.

“I’m a Mama’s Boy,” he said. “And I wasn’t ready to leave my Mama. But now, she was like, ‘you need to get out of here and do something on your own.’ I had all my friends there and I felt I needed to be there for them, but now they understand that I need to be there, but from a distance. It’s a learning experience for everybody.”

Purvis is taking a ‘May-mester’ for three hours every afternoon, and exploring campus. On Thursday, he was taking part in “individuals,” an intense one-hour workout with Ryan Boatright and assistant coach Karl Hobbs.

“I feel like a freshman again,” Purvis said. “Just being around my new teammates, everybody’s cool. I love everybody here.”

Purvis said the new, and by perception weaker conference in which UConn will be playing, the AAC, is no factor at all for him. (That’s a good sign for UConn recruiting in the near term. Daniel Hamilton has said the same thing.)

“UConn is known for its non-conference schedule,” Purvis said, “look at last year, playing Michigan State. Always on TV. It’s like Memphis, when [John] Calipari was there. Guys started going to the NBA, it didn’t matter what conference they were in.”

Purvis walked into Calhoun’s new office to say hello this week. “First thing told me, ‘Players make plays, and that’s what we want you to do.’ And that’s the type of thing I love to hear,” Purvis said. Now, how will Purvis handle sitting out a year?

We will have that and more UConn stuff on our main website and in the Friday Courant.

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