Q: Dom, what is the news on the recruiting front? With [Kevin] Ollie’s success this year, and him receiving a multi-year contract, do we expect the number of recruits committing to increase? Who are the top targets in the 2014 class? Is there a realistic chance of landing Jahlil Okafor?
A: Jeff, with so many games bunched together the last couple of weeks of the season (such as the one in a couple of hours against Georgetown), the coaches haven’t been out on the road as much, and with the recruits playing in high school tournaments they’re not as able to come to UConn games, especially midweek.
What I can tell you is, UConn is still interested in bringing in a 2013 guard, but won’t unless it’s someone they have a strong feeling for.
As for 2014, they’re very high on high-scoring guard Khadeem Carrington from Bishop Loughlin in New York. He was at the Louisville and Cincinnati games and the coaches have seen him play quite a bit. Several other schools are in the picture, but UConn has some optimism.
Obviously, Pascal Chukwu of Fairfield Prep, the big man, is a big ’14 target. He was at the Louisville game and Kevin Ollie has gone to several of his games.
UConn is putting in the effort on Jahlil Okafor, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up there. Competition for him will be strong, and the name alone is not going to be much of a factor, I hear.
Now, in the larger picture, of course the contract extension eliminates a big problem for Kevin Ollie. UConn might not have landed Amida Brimah in January, for instance, had Ollie not been signed when he was (Dec. 29). The Huskies success this year can only help. Coaches were very excited about that shot on ESPN after the Syracuse game, with all the players behind Ollie. The team has stayed relevant, by winning the games it has, and though being invisible in March is going to hurt, and so will the conference realignment turmoil in the near term, but UConn has remained on the national radar long enough that it can still be sold as a great place for a basketball player. Really, the program, with a national title in 2011, 20 wins last year and what it has done this year, has not skipped a beat, as many feared it would.
So the recruiting picture is getting clearer and brighter, but we’ll have to see if they can land some really elite players from the Classes of 2014 and 15.
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