#40 UConn Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

UConn Huskies
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #4 Big East
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Year three under Coach Dan Hurley will be very interesting for Connecticut. The program is making the move to the Big East and the competition is about to get tougher. It is a move that obviously makes sense and it should be a big benefit to the basketball team. On the court, the Huskies had a pretty good 2019-2020 campaign. Besides a horrible January in which the team lost six of seven games, UConn was pretty consistent. And by the end of the year, they were playing quite well and won their last five games before the season was cut short. Heading into 2020-2021, Coach Hurley will hope to build off that momentum and find his team competing for a Big East title.
2019-20 Record: 19-12, 10-8
Coach: Dan Hurley
Coach Record: 35-29 at UConn, 186-134 overall
Key Departed Players:
Christian Vital, Guard, 16.4 ppg
Alterique Gilbert, Guard, 8.2 ppg
Sidney Wilson, Guard/Forward, 3.1 ppg
Key Returning Players:
James Bouknight, Sophomore, Guard, 13.0 ppg
Tyler Polley, Senior, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Josh Carlton, Senior, Forward, Center, 7.8 ppg
Brendan Adams, Junior, Guard, 7.4 ppg
Isaiah Whaley, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg
Akok Akok, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 ppg
Jalen Gaffney, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Key New Players:
Javonte Brown, Freshman, Center
R.J. Cole, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Howard
Andrew Hurley, Freshman, Guard
Andre Jackson, Freshman, Guard
Tyrese Martin, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Rhode Island
Adama Sanogo, Freshman, Forward
Richie Springs, RS Freshman, Forward
UConn does lose top scorer Christian Vital, but seven of their top nine scorers are back. James Bouknight is ready to take over the main scoring role after averaging 13.0 points per game as a freshman. The 6-5 guard attacks the basket very effectively and could be one of the best scorers in the Big East with a little more consistency in his three-point shot. Jalen Gaffney did not make the huge impact that Bouknight did during his freshman campaign, but he did do a good job backing up Alterique Gilbert at the point. With Gilbert gone, Gaffney will likely step into a larger role this season and, even if he does not score too often, Gaffney should be a steady point guard. Brendan Adams has improved during his sophomore season, but still will need to shoot better than 27.8 percent from beyond the arc. Senior forwards Tyler Polley, Josh Carlton and Isaiah Whaley will provide leadership and plenty of production. Polley was averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds when an injury cut his 2019-2020 season short. Carlton is the team’s best rebounder and Whaley averaged 1.5 blocks per game last season. Speaking of blocks, Akok Akok tallied 2.6 per game and Connecticut will be able to again have a strong shot blocker on the floor at all times. The Huskies also bring in a solid group of freshmen, led by Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo, and two talented transfers. R.J. Cole averaged 22.5 points and 6.2 assists during his two seasons at Hampton and Tyrese Martin tallied 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds as a sophomore at Rhode Island last season. This team has an impressive amount of depth. Even if some of the younger players do not live up to their potential right away, Connecticut should have enough options to finish in the top half of the Big East and compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.8 (123rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.0 (113, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.0 (267, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (87, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (205, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.4 (224, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.2 (74, 2)
Rebound Margin: 2.8 (95, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (194, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.2 (272, 9)
Madness 2021 NBA Draft Rankings:
#36 James Bouknight
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#50 Andre Jackson
#70 Adama Sanogo