Key Departures: James Bouknight (NBA); Brendan Adams (–>G. Wash); Josh Carlton (–>Houston)

New In Town: Jordan Hawkins (#50); Samson Johnson (#55); Rashool Diggins (#58); Corey Floyd Jr (#92)

State of the Program:

Thanks to Dan Hurley and Uconn’s decision to return to the Big East I’m willing to say Uconn is back after Kevin Ollie took all of Jim Calhoun’s work and drove it into the ground. Harsh but true. Hurley now has gotten this storied program back to relevance, cracking back into the tournament a year ago and returning all of the major pieces from that group aside from star James Bouknight. Aside from that loss they get back a ton of pieces, including starters RJ Cole (SR), Isaiah Whaley (SR), Tyrese Martin (SR), and Adama Sanogo (SO) plus role players Tyler Polley (SR), Jalen Gaffney (JR) and Andre Jackson (SO) giving Hurley a strong returning core to go with a top-10 recruiting class in the Country. RJ Cole is the man to watch, as he spent last season playing Robin to Bouknight’s Batman and is primed to step into the star role this season and dominate, as he has put up video game like numbers in his past at Howard. With him as the star and this returning class improving Uconn will have the best shot at surpassing Villanova at the top of the Big East. 

What’s New:

Uconn joins Villanova as one of the few programs in the country that did not add a transfer this year, making the Big East one of the beacons of stability in the country. They welcome in a Freshmen class that ranks top-10 in the country and is led by 6’5” G Jordan Hawkins (#50). Hawkins is best described as a Mikal Bridges in the making, as he’s a lanky, bouncy athlete who can hit jumpers and should develop into a very solid 3 and D wing. He needs to add strength and improve his playmaking ability to really pop and become a legitimate threat for the next level but regardless he should make an impact off the bench this season and become a stud for Hurley. Next up, big man Samson Johnson (#55), who at 6’10” becomes the tallest guy on the roster but will find himself competing with a loaded frontcourt. He likely won’t start this year but he fits perfect into what Hurley likes in his big men, as he’s very athletic and excels at blocking shots and runs well in transition. What excites you with him is his jumper though, as it looks like it can develop and become a real weapon, giving Johnson the potential to become a stretch big with the athleticism to excel at the next level. PG Rashool Diggins (#58) also comes to town and he profiles as a true lead guard that excels at using his quick first step to create opportunities for his teammates and himself. He needs to work to improve his jumper to elevate himself but his ability to control the offense and distribute will likely allow him to earn the starting PG role once Cole exits the program. For this season he’ll likely serve as the primary backup to Cole, which likely won’t lead to too many minutes. The last of the Freshman group is 6’4” G Corey Floyd Jr (#92). Floyd is a powerful athlete that can put on a show with his bounce and creativity in transition and at this stage is a solid slashing wing. If he’s able to develop a consistent jumper he could really be special, but at the very least he’ll become a valuable piece as an attacker and playmaker in transition. He likely won’t find much time this season but he’ll certainly be a factor down the road for Hurley. 


Uconn is not getting a ton of National attention but I really like where Hurley has this program heading, and while the loss of Bouknight really does hurt I think the continuing development can continue to elevate the program. Cole can truly be a star and that can separate them from a lot of teams. The Freshmen coming in also have a ton of potential to compete with the returning pieces and earn minutes and improve the depth here. Another key to their continued success should be on the defensive end, as Hurley has a ton of athletic big forwards who helped Uconn be top-5 in 2-pt FG% defense and shot blocking %. This allows the guards to put pressure on teams and funnel them into the bigs inside and that is the strength of this team and Hurley’s philosophy. They should only continue to improve in that area, especially with the addition of Johnson, and with Cole leading the show I put Uconn just under Villanova and squarely in the National mix. They should absolutely return to the NCAA tourney and I expect Hurley to get his first tourney dub with the Huskies.