Pop quiz, kids: What’s the best recruiting pitch a college coach has?
Championship hardware is a good place to start.
UConn’s Kevin Ollie navigated the Huskies to a national title this year, and even though he lost his star senior guard Shabazz Napier, forward DeAndre Daniels, and underrated perimeter sharpshooter Niels Giffey to the NBA, Ollie’s latest acquisition looks to be just what UConn needs to fill the Napier-sized hole at the guard position. By scoring the ESPN-ranked No.33 recruit in Jalen Adams, Kevin Ollie isn’t just adding a player most programs would drool over; he’s adding another local name to the Huskies lineup too.
Adams hails from Roxbury, Massachusetts, and picked the University of Connecticut over Louisville and Kansas, among others. Read that out loud to yourself a few times and let it marinate for a bit.
If the last two sentences still don’t sound right, Adams gave ESPN.com some details on why he comitted to UConn over (at least) two other perennial national title contenders:
“It was because of the coaching staff and the style of play. Coach Ollie lets the guards play. It’s a guards-based program.”
It’s a sharp observation from a high school student, and solid play from point guards and shooting guards over the years has proven to be a UConn trademark, like Kemba Walker’s lights-out tournament run that led to the Huskies’ third national title in 2011. Kevin Ollie’s clearly looking to keep up the bar of excellence at the position that Jim Calhoun set in the 1990s, which should surprise approximately nobody since Ollie was a point guard himself, both as a UConn player and in his 13 years in the NBA.
Adams’ AAU coach, Vinny Pastore, clearly agreed with Jalen’s assessment of the UConn style of play, telling ESPN that “It’s just a perfect fit for him, their style of play, the tradition they have of developing guards to play free. I think Jalen has always wanted to go to UConn, and they recruited him the entire time.”
The last few years have been anything but consistent for the Huskies, but with their academic issues behind them and the ink still drying on Kevin Ollie’s new contract, it sure looks like they’ve been able to bounce back from a tough couple of seasons at the end of the Jim Calhoun era and reload for the future. The jury is still out on Kevin Ollie’s long-term recruiting skills, and Jim Calhoun is an almost impossible act to follow, but it’s definitely looking like with talent like Jalen Adams coming in, Coach Ollie is reloading in a big way and ready to chase another championship.
Or, as he’d probably put it, have another championship chase them.