Now that DeAndre Daniels (going) and Ryan Boatright (staying) have made their decisions, we have a better idea of what the Huskies will look like when they begin defense of their national championship on Nov. 14, 2014, against Bryant …
Gone: Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander, Lasan Kromah, DeAndre Daniels.
Possibly gone: Leon Tolksdorf (via transfer)
Incoming: Rodney Purvis, Sam Cassell Jr., Daniel Hamilton, Rakim Lubun (the last two pending letters of intent).
Ryan Boatright – Back for his senior season, he will be at the steering wheel full-time. This will be his team.
Rodney Purvis – Though more of a two-guard or wing, Purvis has the ball handling skills to give the Huskies the dual-point-guard look they had with Napier and Boatright.
Omar Calhoun – If he can regain his three-point shooting touch, and handle the ball a little better, he could fill the defense-stretching role Giffey had late last season. But competition will be stiff.
Daniel Hamilton – He possesses a lot of the same skills as Daniels, though playing the power spot as an undersized freshman could be a lot to ask.
Amida Brimah – Assuming his recovery from shoulder surgery goes as planned, he could be a monster in the middle as his technique improves.
Off the bench
Terrence Samuel – Played an increasingly important role late last season and will push for more playing time, perhaps even starter minutes, next year now that he has Kevin Ollie’s trust.
Phil Nolan – Sturdy five man will see a lot of time, splitting with Brimah.
Sam Cassell Jr. – UConn’s backcourt will be tough to crack, but Cassell, with a year of high-level JuCo behind him and his point-guard pedigree, might have the stuff to do it.
Kentan Facey – Did not play much as a freshman, but Ollie never stopped saying good things about him. Perhaps next year will be his time to shine in Daniels’ spot.
Works in progress
Rakim Lubin – If he signs and comes aboard, he has the size and girth, at 6-8, 240-plus, UConn needs to win certain matchups in the frontcourt. He figures to be a project.
Tolksdorf – A “stretch four,” considering a move to a mid-major for more playing time.
UConn has had good experiences with grad-student, fifth-year transfers R.J. Evans and Lasan Kromah. With Daniels leaving, the Huskies have a scholarship they can offer, and would not have to tie it up for the Class of 2015, from which they are recruiting aggressively and expansively.
So look for UConn to explore the list of fifth-year players carefully once again for a player who fills an immediate need.
If Tolksdorf transfers, it would open another scholarship, giving UConn a chance to re-examine 2014 recruits, or accept a transfer who would become eligible the following year (ala Purvis).