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Mamadou Diarra Talks Commitment

The rising big man out of New York made the call and committed to the University of Connecticut just now over VCU. In the past his high school coach has said UConn is his dream school and that was too much for the new VCU coaching staff to overcome. The 6’8″ 215lbs. will attend Woodstock Academy next year with fellow UConn recruit Hamidou Diallo then will be on campus the following year.

Diarra had this to say about what his biggest reason is for committing to UConn, “My trust in coach Ollie and knowing that he will get the best out of me. They told me that I can play big minutes because they don’t have a post player that rebounds at a really high level and they think I can do that.” Diarra is known as a high energy player and his best part of his game is his rebounding.

This past weekend I talked to him about UConn and he had this to say, “It’s always been a school that I watched and liked. The campus is really nice and the location is really good because it isn’t too far, but isn’t too close to New York.” He also talked about his visit to UConn a couple of weeks ago. “I got to see most of the campus and all the facilities that the basketball team uses. I really liked the new practice facility and that they give each player their own key. That means you can go to the gym as much as you want,” he explained.

It’s been clear all throughout his recruitment that he has been very interested in UConn and the past month or so the UConn coaching staff reciprocated the interest. At that point it seemed only like a matter of time before he committed to being a future UConn husky.

Asked if the big man had something to say to UConn fans he responded with this, “Thank you for letting me in to the family. It should be a great 4 years when I come.”

Diarra is a solid start to a crucial 2016 recruiting class for Kevin Ollie and his coaching staff. There’s the possibility of more than five scholarships being open so the class with hopefully be relatively big and filled with talent. In addition to Diarra the staff is looking to add at minimum a point guard and a wing. Alterique Gilbert looks to be favoring UConn at this point after his official visit and V.J. King is taking an official visit next weekend.

Here’s a recent breakdown of his game from Cox Hub:

1. Size – Big men are always at a premium at the next level and so college coaches go out of their way to identify and prioritize the best ones early in the process. Diarra is a prime example of that. And while he may only be six-foot-eight (at the most), he has long arms and a very small neck, meaning his functional size is actually more than most people give him credit for.

2. Power – Diarra has a naturally powerful frame. He not only goes right into contact on both ends of the floor, but he also goes right through it. But one of the most intriguing parts about his long-term potential is that he still has plenty of room left on his frame to add additional muscle mass. It often times goes unnoticed because of how broad his shoulders are, but Diarra doesn’t have nearly as much visible muscle mass as you might expect. What happens when he gets in a college weight program and adds another 20 pounds of muscle? He’ll only be that much more of a force inside the paint.

3. Athleticism – He gets off his feet quickly and with good timing, can jump off one foot without breaking his stride or power up off of two, and can play up towards the top half of the box. Diarra isn’t just a leaper though. He runs the floor, moves laterally and also has good reflexes and reactions for a guy his size. Those are all factors that will impact his production at the next level and in areas that range from finishing to rebounding to blocking/contesting shots to ball-screen defense.

4. Motor – For all of his unique physical gifts, this is the factor that fuses it all together. If there were only one word to describe Diarra it would be “beast.” He rips rebounds out of the air, powers up two-handed dunks in traffic and just seems to have too many physical gifts and too much energy to be denied. Even better, that motor is non-compromising. He plays as hard as he can every time out, regardless of how many shots, touch or other individual accolades he may receive. Regardless of any limitations in his game – and every player has them – those attributes alone are enough to make him a productive player in any college basketball league in the country.

5. Learning Curve – This is perhaps the most under-appreciated part of Diarra’s game and potential for the next level. He’s such an imposing physical presence inside the paint that the fact that he’s made steady strides in his skill set has gone relatively unnoticed. Diarra may never be the type of low post scorer who can anchor a half-court defense but he’s developed a soft shooting touch out to the elbow, has starting to develop a bouncy baby hook on the block and has even shown a flash or two of passing intellect. Is he ready to impact a college game with these skills? No. But the point is that he’s continuing to develop new aspects of his game and if he continues along the same path, we could very well see a more skilled version of Diarra a few years down the road then we’ve seen during his high school career.

His rankings:
247Sports: 3 star
ESPN: 4 star
Rivals: 3 star
Scout: 3 star

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Mamadou Diarra is a Husky!

The rising big man out of New York made the call and committed to the University of Connecticut just now over VCU. In the past his high school coach has said UConn is his dream school and that was too much for the new VCU coaching staff to overcome. The 6’8″ 215lbs. will attend Putnam Science Academy next year with fellow UConn recruit Hamidou Diallo then will be on campus the following year.

This past weekend I talked to him about UConn and he had this to say, “It’s always been a school that I watched and liked. The campus is really nice and the location is really good because it isn’t too far, but isn’t too close to New York.” He also talked about his visit to UConn a couple of weeks ago. “I got to see most of the campus and all the facilities that the basketball team uses. I really liked the new practice facility and that they give each player their own key. That means you can go to the gym as much as you want,” he explained.

It’s been clear all throughout his recruitment that he has been very interested in UConn and the past month or so the UConn coaching staff reciprocated the interest. At that point it seemed only like a matter of time before he committed to being a future UConn husky.

Diarra is a solid start to a crucial 2016 recruiting class for Kevin Ollie and his coaching staff. There’s the possibility of more than five scholarships being open so the class with hopefully be relatively big and filled with talent. In addition to Diarra the staff is looking to add at minimum a point guard and a wing. Alterique Gilbert looks to be favoring UConn at this point after his official visit and V.J. King is taking an official visit next weekend.

 

His rankings:
247Sports: 3 star
ESPN: 4 star
Rivals: 3 star
Scout: 3 star

*****Look for an interview article with him shortly.

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2016 PF Committing Friday

Power forward Mamadou Diarra out of NY has a final two of UConn and VCU. The big man has gone from relatively unknown to a four star recruit within the past year. This summer he’s had plenty of good showings and by the end of the summer he should be on every national recruiting list. I had the chance to catch up with him about his recruitment this past weekend.

Diarra has been quoted as saying UConn is his, “Dream school,” and he certainly has great things to say about UConn. “UConn has always been a school that I watched and liked. The campus is really nice and the location is really good because it isn’t to far, but isn’t to close to New York,” he said. Diarra took an unofficial visit to UConn on April 29th and also attended a game this past season. Coach Ollie and his assistants have already watched multiple games of his this summer and were at many of his high school games and practices. He’s also high school and AAU teammates with 2017 recruit Hamidou Diallo.

Mamadou also talked about his visit to Storrs last month. “I got to see most of the campus and all the facilities that the basketball team uses. I really liked the new practice facility and that they give each player their own key. That means you can go to the gym as much as you want,” he explained. Diarra is the latest recruit that has raved about the new UConn Basketball Champions Center after seeing it on their visits.

The big man also went into depth about where his recruitment is heading and what it will take for either UConn or VCU to get him. “It all comes down to which program I fit in better and which place is going to get the best out of me. I think I have a really good relationship with coach Ollie and his staff. That is one of the reasons I picked them as one of my top two schools,” Diarra stated. “I’ll probably commit by the end of this month. I’m not to sure about future visits right now,” he continued.

Whichever school gets Diarra will be getting a big man that’s going to bring a lot of energy, hustle plays, and rebounding to the court. This past weekend Corey Evans of NY2LA Sports had these tweets about Diarra while watching him play, ” Mamadou Diarra is a rim presence! Big time shot alterer and rebounder. Motor never turns off. Rums rim to rim. Producer.” “A lot of people missed out on Mamadou Diarra. Kid is going to have a great 4 year college career with ample rebounds and easy buckets.” “Mamadou Diarra’s back at it. Floats above the rim for every put back chance. One of the hardest dudes to box out due to motor and strength.”

Mamadou Diarra will commit on Friday at 11:30am. He has already visited both schools but it wouldn’t be surprising if he visits the school he will commit to one more time just to be certain on his decision. UConn has a great chance to lock him down and move onto others in his class to get them to do the same.

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UConn Offers Two 2016 Wings

Last week as a result of the second evaluation period in April coach Ollie and his coaching staff offered two talented wings in 2016, Wenyen Gabriel and Brendan Bailey. Each of them have great things to say about UConn.

Wenyen Gabriel had this to say about getting the offer, “I was excited! Getting a call from someone so great [Kevin Ollie] is an honor and especially when he’s offering you a scholarship. It’s even better when it’s coming from a school like UConn which is one of the powerhouses of New England basketball.”

UConn has a long history of producing pros under former head coach Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie is starting to do the same. Wenyen cited that and other reasons why UConn is an attractive school for him. “I know that UConn is very capable of producing pros and that its fan base is awesome. I know that if I do end up going there that I’d be able to have friends and family come to games if they’d like and that being coached by Kevin Ollie would be great. I also loved the new facilities! Plus the fact that I know I’ll be able to put on weight there is good too,” explained Gabriel. He’s a local standout in Massachusetts and plays for the same AAU program that incoming freshman Jalen Adams played for. He’s been on campus multiple times and certainly knows what UConn basketball is all about.

In addition to his new UConn offer Wenyen Gabriel also has offers from Maryland, Boston College, Providence, Rhode Island, UMass, Rice, DePaul, and St. Bonaventure. He also is receiving interest from Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Temple, and the majority of the Ivy League schools.

Brendan Bailey also said he was very excited to receive an offer from Coach Ollie. “UConn is a top basketball program, and Kevin Ollie is a great coach, so I was very happy. He told me that he was really excited about me as a player, and he also asked if UConn was too far away from home, but of course I said no! He also told me that UConn is a very special place,” he stated. Bailey was an Arizona State commit but decided to de-commit after the recent coaching change and ever since then UConn has been watching him over the past two evaluation periods.

Since his de-commitment he has gotten offers from San Diego State, Auburn, Gonzaga, Arizona State and is getting interest from Michigan, Utah, and Oregon State.

UConn looks to be in a good spot with Bailey at this time. He seems to know a good bit about UConn already. “I like how coach Ollie played there and is now the coach, so I know that has a lot to offer and the program has had a lot of success. I don’t know a lot about the academics, but I know that UConn is a great great basketball program,” Bailey asserted. He could be one to watch is he’s completely open to leaving the west coast because his interest in UConn seems high.

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Grad Transfer Shonn Miller to UConn

Earlier this week Coach Ollie was quoted saying this about bringing in more players for next year, “There’s a couple of players that we’re looking (at). We’re just trying to add some spots. My job is to evaluate the program. We have a couple that’s right on the brink, and hopefully we’ll get some good news here soon.” Today he and the rest of the UConn basketball program got some good news, graduate transfer Shonn Miller from Cornell said he wanted to be a husky next year.

Miller will be eligible to play next year due to the fact that graduate transfers don’t have to sit out a year, like Rodney Purvis did. Although he will only be a UConn husky for one season he should be able to come in and provide and instant option down low and also help UConn’s recent rebounding troubles. Shonn is widely considered a top five transfer this year and was sixth in the country last year in defensive rebounding percentage. In his senior year at Cornell he averaged 16.8 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, and 1.8 blocks per game.

The talented 6’7″ power forward met with Kevin Ollie and UConn on March 26th and made his way to campus yesterday for a visit which sealed the deal. Before committing to UConn he also mulled other options like Michigan, Illinois, Boston College, California, Marquette, and others. Shonn Miller is a great addition to next years team as he will likely be playing major minutes.

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Temple Gibbs Talks About His UConn Visit

Temple made his way to Storrs, CT during the second to last weekend of March for an unofficial visit. I had the chance to catch up with him about the visit and what his plans are going forward.

The talented combo guard out of New Jersey had rave reviews about his visit to UConn. “It was great! It’s amazing! I’m looking forward to going back. I saw both gyms and a little of the campus. I loved the weight room, it was one of the best that I have seen,” he explained. Temple has two older brothers Ashton, who played at Pitt, and Sterling, who plays for Seton Hall, which means he’s been on various other campuses with his brothers and for his own visits. With Temple saying he liked UConn’s facilities that much goes to show how nice the new UConn Basketball Champions Center truly is.

Gibbs told me about what he wants in his college coach and right afterwards went on to say that Ollie matched what he’s looking for in a coach. “[On what he wants his coach to be like] Someone I can trust and really get along with. [On his relationship with UConn's staff] It’s been great! They have been completely honest with me and straight forward. I really get along with them well.”

Temple Gibbs is in a similar situation as UConn freshman Daniel Hamilton. He’s the youngest of a very talented family in basketball and that usually means the youngest learns from the older siblings things they may not have ever learned to do on the court. Temple blew up last year when he played tremendously at the Nike Peach Jam with his AAU team the New Jersey Playaz. Ever since then he’s been know as a very good shooter and he’s also very good at driving to the basket and scoring or passing it off to teammates.

In addition to UConn some schools he named that are also highly involved in his recruitment are Rutgers, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, Providence, Oklahoma, Miami, and Boston College among others. His response to if he had any leaders at this point was, “Not really, I’m just trying to see who’s the best fit.” Kevin Ollie and the rest of his coaching staff may be looking to make Temple a bigger target than he has been in the past. Ollie and Ricky Moore watched him multiple times this past weekend in Virginia at the EYBL.

From here the talented guard said he didn’t have a timeline for his recruitment, “When the time comes and it feels right I’m going to commit. I want to make sure it’s the right fit for me and my family and that its a family like atmosphere. I want to love to be there even if I wasn’t playing basketball.” It’s safe to say he will be getting more offers this upcoming summer after coaches get to see him play more and if how much Ollie watched him during the first live period is any indication, UConn should be in it until the end with Temple Gibbs.

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First April Live Period Report

The first live period is where head coaches are out watching their top targets letting them know for sure they are priorities. Coach Ollie spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Hampton, Virginia at the EYBL accompanied with assistant coach Ricky Moore. Those two spent the day before visiting with 2016 PF Juwan Durham out of Florida.

Friday night coach spent his time watching this upcoming weekends official visitor, 2016 PG Alterique Gilbert. Also in 2016 he watched SG Bruce Brown and combo guard Temple Gibbs. He also watched the staff’s top target in 2017 C Zach Brown.

On Saturday Ollie and Moore started the day off watching one of, in not the biggest, target in 2016 SF V.J. King. During the game King started suffering from back spasms he has had a little lately and he decided to sit out the rest of the game and the rest of the weekend. Also in that game was 2017 PG Matt Coleman. Throughout the rest of the day he again watched Temple Gibbs, Alterique Gilbert, Zach Brown, Bruce Brown, 2016 PF Tyrique Jones, 2017 SF Jermaine Samuels, 2017 PG Trae Young, and 2016 C Tony Bradley among others.

The following day Kevin Ollie and Ricky Moore spent the day watching the same targets they had the previous two days at the EYBL.

Throughout the first live period the staff also had an assistant in Dallas at the Adidas Gauntlet. At that event was 2017 PG Tremont Waters, 2016 SF Vance Jackson, 2016 SF Mario Kegler, and 2017 PG Makai-Ashton Langford, and 2016 PF De’Ron Davis among others.

So far as a result of the first live period four offers have been extended. 2016 PF De’Ron Davis, 2016 C Tony Bradley, 2016 SF Troy Baxter, and 2017 C Mohammed Bamba were the recipients. Look for the same targets to be watched in the next live period this weekend and some recruits will start cutting their lists down a little and scheduling some official and unofficial visits.

Look tomorrow for an interview article with 2016 combo guard Temple Gibbs who visited campus a little over a month ago.

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News Links, 4/11

Football
UConn Blue-White Football Game: Time To Show Off, Courant
Diaco Eager To Show Off Progress At Blue-White Game, Courant
UConn heads into spring game without starting quarterback, Register

Men’s Hoops
Report: Providence’s Tyler Harris meets with UConn, Channel 8

Women’s Hoops
UConn’s Run To A 10th National Title, Courant
UConn’s Stewart adds Wooden Award to list of honors, Register
Reid: Mater Dei grad Mosqueda-Lewis closes book on college, looks to WNBA, Orange County Ledger
Girls basketball player of the year: Katie Lou Samuelson, Mater Dei, Orange County Ledger
Jones: UConn’s women’s basketball dominance contributes to ratings dip, Tampa Bay Times
PHOTO: UConn Nike Kobe X National Championship, Lakers Nation
Each Women’s Final Four team recruiting Lakewood Ranch’s LaDazhia Williams, Bradenton Herald
City’s top sophomore cager transferring to Mary Louis, Times Ledger

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News Links, 4/10

Football
UConn football coach Bob Diaco talks new spring approach, bringing fans back, Channel 8
Diaco Says QB Shirreffs Has Slight Edge, NBC Connecticut

Men’s Hoops
Shonn Miller, 6-7 Forward From Cornell, To Visit UConn, Courant
NIT still ducking questions about Yale men’s basketball snub, Register
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says college basketball ‘worse than high school’, NY Daily News

Women’s Hoops
UConn Parade Sunday At 3 P.M. In Downtown Hartford, Courant
UConn’s Morgan Tuck shook off nerves in second half, Register
Parade to celebrate UConn women’s national title slated for Sunday, Register
Kia Nurse to Return to National Team Duty, NBC Connecticut
A look back at each of UConn’s 10 national titles, Channel 8
Geno Auriemma explains why his UConn Huskies are so great, Channel 8
UConn’s Stewart aims for honor of best ever after third straight title, Sports Illustrated
5 PIECES OF PROOF THAT DONOVAN MCNABB LIVED IT UP WITH UCONN, ESPN
UConn women’s basketball: The epic, undercover dynasty, Mashable

Polo
College Polo Championships Held At UConn, AP article from the Courant

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News Links, 4/9

Women’s Hoops
Huskies Receive Warm Welcome; ‘It Never Gets Old,’ Says Geno, Courant
Rocky Start, But Huskies Became A Team Geno Grew To Love, Courant
UConn women responded when title game got close, Register
UConn women get warm welcome home on cold day in Storrs, Register
Geno Auriemma speaks at UConn victory parade, Channel 8
Champion Huskies arrive home Wednesday afternoon, Channel 3
President Congratulates UConn Coach on 10th National Title, NBC Connecticut
Huskies Should Be Favorites for 11th Title in 2015-16, NBC Connecticut
Editorial: Top 10 steps to excellence, Stamford Advocate
Geno, let’s talk title No. 10: Auriemma in Southington on April 20, Meriden Record Journal
UConn Sees Lone Loss as Turning Point in a Championship Season, NY Times
Stevens: ‘Hats off’ to UConn, Auriemma, Comcast Sports Network New England
Title in hand, UConn sets sights on four-peat, Tampa Bay Times
How UConn, Geno Auriemma Dominate Women’s College Basketball, Forbes
Eight amazing stats that sum up UConn women’s dominance, NY Post
Two legendary coaches add another NCAA victory to their legacies, PBS News Hour
UConn returns home with 10th title, ESPN
Geno Auriemma ties John Wooden with 10 titles as UConn beats Notre Dame, Yahoo Sports
Michael Arace commentary: Auriemma worthy of comparisons to Wooden, Columbus Dispatch
Breanna Stewart puts her stamp on women’s basketball (Editorial), Syracuse Post Standard
Sciria: What if Breanna Stewart had picked Syracuse instead of UConn?, Auburn Citizen
Hamilton’s Kia Nurse shook off nerves to help UConn win title, Waterloo Record
Notre Dame Has High Hopes For 2015-16 With All Key Players Returning, Courant

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