#57 Connecticut Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Connecticut Huskies
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #57
Conference Rank: #5 American
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Early injuries derailed the Connecticut Huskies’ 2016-17 season before it ever got a chance to start. Promising acquisitions Alterique Gilbert and Terry Larrier both suffered season ending injuries within the first five games of the year. The Huskies got off to a rough start even before the injuries struck though, losing their first two games of the season to Wagner and Northeastern. Connecticut failed to ever turn their season around, finishing 9-9 in a relatively weak American Conference. Kevin Ollie won a championship in his second season as head coach, but he’s only made the NCAA Tournament twice in his five seasons. Ollie and the Huskies should be feeling some pressure to get back to the Big Dance this year.
2016-17 Record: 16-17, 9-9
2016-17 Postseason:
Kevin Ollie
Coach Record:
113-61 at Connecticut, 113-61 overall
Who’s Out:
Connecticut will have quite a bit of reloading to do as six players in the team’s top eight minutes played are gone. Rodney Purvis has graduated after playing three seasons for the Huskies. Purvis was the team’s second leading scorer as a senior with 13.8 points per game. Purvis was a key player in each of his three years at UConn and his leadership will be missed. Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah have also both graduated after four-year careers at Connecticut. Facey had his best season as a senior, averaging 8.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 28 starts. Brimah was an important contributor in all four seasons at UConn, finishing his career averaging 7.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks as a senior. Vance Jackson had an impressive freshman season, averaging 8.1 points and earning All-Rookie Team honors in the American Athletic Conference. However, Jackson, who shot 39.7% from three, elected to transfer after just one year at UConn. Steven Enoch also chose to transfer after his sophomore season. Enoch couldn’t get on the court much for the Huskies, playing just 12.1 minutes per game last season. Lastly, Juwan Durham transferred after a disappointing freshman season where he played just 8.3 minutes per game.
Who’s In:
To make up for the departures, UConn will have several new players joining the program this season. Antwoine Anderson and David Onuorah are both grad transfers who will spend their last collegiate season with the Huskies. Anderson is a 6-1 guard from Fordham where he averaged 11.1 points, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals last year. Onuorah is a 6-9 forward from Cornell who got injured in his first game of 2016-17 and sat out the rest of the season. As a junior, he averaged 5.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Connecticut will also add two junior college transfers, Kwintin Williams and Eric Cobb. Williams is an athletic 6-7 forward who averaged 18 points and 8.3 rebounds in 2015-16, the last season he played at Pima College. Cobb is a big 6-9 center who began his college career at South Carolina before leaving to play at Chipola College. Cobb averaged 10.9 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. The Huskies also have five freshmen joining the roster this year. Sidney Wilson, a four-star 6-7 forward, committed to play at UConn in early September after initially committing to St. John’s. It’s currently unknown if Wilson will be eligible for 2017-18. Kevin Ollie also added three three-star recruits for this season. Josh Carlton is a 6-9 center, Tyler Polley is 6-7 forward and Isaiah Whaley is a 6-9 forward. All three players will likely just be depth pieces during their freshman seasons. Mamadou Diarra was a four-star recruit a season ago but failed to ever see the court after an injury in the Huskies’ first exhibition game. Diarra, a 6-8 forward, will be a redshirt freshman this season and should have a sizable role.
Who to Watch:
The Huskies will have some familiar faces to go along with the bevy of new arrivals. Jalen Adams returns as the team’s leading scorer last season with 14.4 points per game. Adams added 6.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals en route to First Team All-AAC honors. As a junior this season, Adams will be expected to do even more as the team’s undisputed leader. Terry Larrier and Alterique Gilbert are healthy after both suffered early season injuries last year. Larrier was entering his first season as a Huskie after transferring in from VCU. He was off to a promising start, averaging 16.7 points in his three full games played before tearing his ACL in game four. Gilbert was a four-star recruit with high expectations last season before getting injured in just the third game of the year. Gilbert averaged 10.3 points in his three appearances. Both Larrier and Gilbert will be healthy this season and are looking to bounce back. Christian Vital impressed in his freshman season at UConn. Vital started 10 games and averaged 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 36.6% from behind the arc. Vital should continue to only get better as a sophomore.
Final Projection:
Connecticut enters the 2017-18 coming off the worst season of Kevin Ollie’s tenure as head coach. Injuries can be partially to blame, but the Huskies were struggling before losing two of their top players. Those two players will be back and healthy this season, but UConn also loses most of their contributors from a season ago. Ollie will have to rely on a lot of new players to come together and play well as a team. All-Conference player Jalen Adams is back along with impressive freshman Christian Vital, but no one else on the roster has played more than five games in a UConn jersey. The Huskies have the talent to compete in the AAC and for an NCAA Tournament bid, but they will have to develop chemistry among many moving pieces.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Alterique Gilbert, Freshman, Guard, 10.3 points per game

Jalen Adams, Junior, Guard, 14.4 points per game
Kwintin Williams, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Terry Larrier, Junior, Forward, 13.5 points per game
Eric Cobb, Junior, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.3 (294th in nation, 8th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 66.3 (44, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.0 (247, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.3 (12, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (226, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (146, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.2 (133, 5)
Rebound Margin: 1.4 (137, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (202, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (91, 6)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#126 Tyler Polley
#154 Josh Carlton