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Military Appreciation Offer

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If you’re feeling extra patriotic this upcoming Independence Day Weekend, or just are in the giving mood, UConn Football is offering to donate a ticket to active or retired members of the military to the Army game on September 12th for every season ticket bought from now until July 10th.  I love when UConn does stuff like this.  Pass it along to friends and family to do something nice for those who served our country.

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Ticket Prices

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Received this email today from the UConn Athletic Department.  I get what they’re trying to do.  They want to entice people to buy season tickets.  However, the team’s performance the last few years doesn’t warrant people spending their money on UConn Football.  In my opinion, you’re only having the diehards buy season tickets this year.  The casual fan doesn’t care about this team, and really has no reason to until they start winning.

What really strikes me as odd here is that they honestly are going to charge $35 for a single ticket to one of these games?  Are they serious?!?!?!  Who would spend that kind of money to see UConn play any of these teams on the schedule.  This really is stupid.  I can’t speak for all UConn fans who go to games regularly, but I’ve never known anyone to buy a single game seat through the box office.  Maybe this is why.  Who would spend $35 when one could probably scalp a ticket in the parking lot for a third of the price at most.  UConn has got to do something about this, to at least entice people to make it to one game this season.  Offer a children’s discount, a free parking pass for every 4 single tickets bought, coupon on concessions, etc.  Anything!  If they want to grow the season ticket base, they’ve got to give the casual fan a great experience on gameday.  A reason to keep coming back and for the casual fan to say, “Wow, I could do that 6-7 times a year? So worth it!”  UConn definately took a step in the right direction taking care of their season ticket holders with the added perks for this upcoming season.  Unfortunately, the reality is our season ticket base isn’t big enough to fill the stadium.   Have to try something else in addition to what they’re doing.

As I always say, it all starts with winning.  Win games and the people will be happy to come.  But until then, you’ve got to run gimmicks that will put people in the stadium.  #FillTheRent

@UConn813

 

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UConn in the NFL – Update

The draft has come and gone and free agency has quieted down, so I figured as we approach July it’d be a good time to take a look and see where all of our UConn Football alums are currently in the NFL.  I included a couple of related articles to some of the players that UConn fans may enjoy.

  • Byron Jones – CB – Dallas Cowboys
    • Drafted in the 1st round and receiving raved reviews.  Projected to start at one of the CB spots for his rookie season.
  • Geremy Davis – WR – New York Giants
    • Drafted in the 6th round, Davis is a longshot to make the Giants receiving rotation.  However, his shot of making the roster will come from his ability to contribute on special teams.  I’d expect him to catch on to a practice squad if he doesn’t make the 53 man roster.
  • Yawin Smallwood – LB – Tennessee Titans
    • Signed to the Titans practice squad in November, he is still currently under contract with the team.  He has yet to play in an NFL game in his career.
  • Shamar Stephen – DT – Minnesota Vikings
    • Entering his second season in Minnesota, Stephen will continue to develop as apart of the Vikings DL rotation.  He recorded 23 tackles during his rookie campaign, and figures to see more time this upcoming season.
  • Nick Williams – WR – Atlanta Falcons
    • Signed a contract with Atlanta back in February.  The Falcons currently have 11 WR’s under contract, so Williams path to making this team seems to be by showcasing his value on special teams.  We saw during his time here how dangerous a returner he can be, so hopefully he can make his mark in Atlanta.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson – CB – Tennessee Titans
    • Entering his 3rd season in Tennesee, Wreh-Wilson is coming off a shoulder injury that landed him on IR at the end of the year.  He missed OTA’s and will sit out minicamps.  He’s currently regarded as questionable for the start of training camp in a month.  The Titans didn’t do much to address the CB position, so it looks like Blidi will see plenty of time when he becomes healthy.
  • Dwayne Gratz – CB – Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Entering his 3rd season, Gratz is coming off a brutal season.  He had some off the field issues, and was benched twice last season due to poor play. He figures to be a backup heading into training camp, and there’s talk of even moving him to safety.  He did show flashes last season of being able to make the big play, forcing two fumbles and taking an INT 55 yards for a TD against Houston the final week of the season.  Hopefully Dwayne builds on that momentum heading into this season.
  • Sio Moore – LB – Oakland Raiders
    • Entering his 3rd season, Moore is coming off offseason hip surgery.  He is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.  On the field, Sio showed plenty of promise, recording 3 sacks and a forced fumble in 11 games.  He is expected to fill a starting OLB spot on the Raiders defense. Off the field, he’s become a fan favorite.  Here’s a link to a story from just over a month ago about getting his jersey’s to fans.
    • Sio Moore Story
  • Ryan Griffin – TE – Houston Texans
    • Entering his 3rd season, Griffin is expected to fulfill the role he’s maintained his first 2 season in the league.  He’s projected to be the 3rd TE and contribute on special teams.  He did play in all 16 games last season and recorded his first TD in Week 13 against Tennessee.
  • Trevardo Williams – DE – Washington Redskins
    • Entering his 4th season, Trevardo finally saw time last season with the Redskins after being signed from the practice squad in December.  He appeared in the final 3 games, recording 5 tackles and a sack.  He is currently on the 90 man roster, with an outside to make the 53 man team in August.
  • Kendall Reyes – DT – San Diego Chargers
    • Entering his 4th season, Reyes had a pretty underwhelming year stats-wise in 2014.  After recording 5 sacks each of his first two seasons, he only registered 1 last season.  He is expected to start at DE this upcoming season, so hopefully he’ll get back on track.
  • Anthony Sherman – FB – Kansas City Chiefs
    • Signed a contract extension with the Chiefs for 3 more years and is worth up to 7 million.  Sherman is a huge part of the running game leading the way for Jamaal Charles.  He also contributed a bit in the passing game, catching 28 balls over the past two seasons.  This will be his 5th season in the NFL, and his 3rd with Kansas City.
  • Jordan Todman – RB – Carolina Panthers
    • Signed with Carolina in March to a one-year deal.  He’s not expected to see much time in the backfield, even though he showed some flashes last season in Jacksonville.  He is expected to help in the return game, in which he finished last season amongst the leaders in total kick return yards. He is entering his 4th season, his first with Carolina.  He’s already making quite the impact on his new teammates as seen here in this article from 3 weeks ago during OTA’s
    • Jordan Todman Proving Himself
  • Danny Lansanah – LB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Entering his 4th season in the NFL, 3rd with the Bucs, Lansanah has made the most of the opportunity he received last season.  He had a very nice year in 2014, recording 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 INT’s, returning 2 of those for TD’s.  He’s expected to compete for a starting OLB spot this upcoming season.  He’ll be entering restricted free agency in 2016, so I’m expecting big things from him this upcoming season.
  • Donald Brown – RB – San Diego Chargers
    • Entering his 7th season, Donald Brown is coming off the most disappointing season statisically of his career.  His 223 yards and 2.8 average were the lowest of his career.  The Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon, and still have Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver on the roster.  Not sure what Brown’s future is in San Diego, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was cut and latched on with someone else.
  • Donald Thomas – OG – Indianapolis Colts
    • Entering his 8th season, Thomas is coming off of two straight injury filled seasons.  He tore his quad last July and isn’t expected back until training camp this season.  It’s being rumored that he could be cut to save money, but if he’s healthy, he will definately catch on with another team looking for OL depth.  Here’s an article from about a month ago about Thomas fighting his way back from injuries
    • Donald Thomas Fighting His Way Back
  • Robert McClain – DB – New England Patriots
    • Entering his 6th season, McClain signed a one-year deal with New England in March.  McClain is known for being able to play all positions in the secondary, which made him attractive to the Patriots.  He is not expected to start, however he provides depth at all positions, so it’s expected he’ll see plenty of time on the field in 2015.
  • Marcus Easley – WR – Buffalo Bills
    • Entering his 5th season in the NFL, all with the Bills, Easley cashed in this past offseason with his superb special teams play.  Marcus signed a 4 year, 7 million dollar contract in March.  For his career, he’s caught two passes for 13 yards.  However, Easley has proven his value by becoming unblockable on kickoffs.  He’s expected to fulfill the same role this upcoming season, and is always a candidate to make the pro-bowl.
  • Darius Butler – CB – Indianapolis Colts
    • Entering his 7th season, Butler recently resigned with the Colts back in March for two more years and a total of 5 million dollars.  He’s expected to be the nickel corner on Indy’s defense, a role that has suited him well over the last three seasons.  While statistically, 2014 wasn’t his best, he has a nose for the ball and is expected to play a large role in the Colts secondary this upcoming season.
  • Tyvon Branch – S – Kansas City Chiefs
    • Entering his 8th season in the NFL, Tyvon signed a one year deal with the Chiefs in March after spending his first 7 seasons in Oakland.  He’s expected to fill Eric Berry’s spot while he’s sidelined this season.  Coming off injuries, Branch reportedly participated in OTA’s without incident and looks to be 100%.  When healthy, Branch is one of the league’s most productive players at the safety position.
  • Will Beatty – OT – New York Giants
    • Entering his 7th season, all with the New York Giants, Beatty was coming off maybe his best season as a pro.  However, Beatty tore his pec muscle in May and will be out 5 months.  The Giants O-line is suspect at best, so if and when he’s ready to return, Beatty should be able to get back in the mix.
  • Dan Orlovsky – QB – Detroit Lions
    • Entering his 11th season, Orlovsky re-signed with Detroit in March.  He hasn’t taken a snap since 2012, yet he’s still in the league.  He’s a backup and will be it seems until he wants to hang it up.  If an injury were to ever happen to Matthew Stafford, it seems Orlovsky would get a chance to throw to Megatron & Golden Tate, a far cry from the scrubs he played with during the Lions 0-16 season in 2008.
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Current Recruiting & the In-State Debate

UConn Football has received 4 commitments over the past 10 days for the 2016 recruiting class.  One player from CT, one from New Jersey, one from Virginia, and one from Illinois.  This upcoming recruiting class is thought to be around 13-14 players max, so we’re just about a third of the way filled.  For these 4 guys, Bob Diaco has done what many of our diehards have been screaming about for years, and that is to beat other schools, especially P5 schools, out for these players.  UConn beat out schools such as Northwestern, NC State, Temple, & Duke for the services of these first four recruits.  You’re entitled to feel how you feel about it, but I feel cautiously optimistic.  Again, I am not a recruiting guru.  I don’t pay all that much attention to it, and frankly I just want players here that are going to make us win consistantly year after year.  In order to do that, we’re going to have to compete with good football programs to bring talent here.  We can’t always resort to finding the hidden gem.  So, even though we aren’t bringing in top 100 players nationally or bunches of 4 & 5 star players, we seem to be bringing in guys that other schools, P5 schools, covet.  That’s a reason to be optimistic.

As far as the CT recruiting scene, UConn doesn’t really seem to be in the mix for our top in-state players. Quansah, Harrington, & Morgenstern have all commited elsewhere.  Hescock seems to be heavy on Wisconsin, and Niang has offers from all over the country.  Based off of recruiting websites that I checked, those 5 guys seem to be the consensus top 5 players in the state.  We did secure a verbal commit in Keiyon Dixon, and UConn is in on Tahj Herring, a CB out of Suffield, and Jay Rose, a QB/TE out of Southington.  It’s nice when in-state kids stay home and play for UConn, but I don’t blame them for leaving. Also, we’re not going to fill a competitive team with just kids from CT, so it’s more important for the staff to focus on spreading the program’s reach.  I think that’s what Diaco has been doing, judging by the commitments of 2015 and 2016.

I don’t subscribe to the the camp that just because a CT kid is getting hype, or has a few stars next to his name, that we MUST keep him here and make the in-state kids the priority.  We’re coming off 4 miserable seasons.  Just get talent here.  I don’t care where they’re from.  If the staff feels they can get someone else from NJ or PA or freakin Alaska that would be a better fit for our program than the recruit from down the street, then go get that player!  We need to start winning games, period.  Get the best players here that fit what we’re trying to do.

Bottom line is, if the program starts winning, the top in state kids will be more likely to stay home because they’d have a reason to.  The program has been so down the past few years, who could blame these kids for taking the opportunities handed to them elsewhere.  Give these kids a reason to stay: a top notch education, proximity to their families, and A WINNING FOOTBALL PROGRAM TO PLAY FOR!  That last one is pretty darn important to potential recruits. Who would have thought?

 

@UConn813

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Party at the Point – Recap

 

 

 

Made the drive down to Stamford, CT last night at Sign of the Whale for the Party At The Point.  The event was thrown by the Fairfield County Alumni Association.  They raffled off some good prizes, but unfortunately I didn’t win.  Got to meet Head Coach Bob Diaco and talk briefly with him.  He was very gracious and thanked me and my crew for coming down to support the Uconn Football program.  It was a gorgeous night, food was great, and really got me excited for the upcoming season.  Here’s a few tidbits from the evening, some serious and some not so much, followed by some pictures:

  • Diaco can really sell this program.  He spoke for about 5 minutes at the beginning, stressing the importance of school spirit.  His goal is to get people from all over the state to take pride in the school.  He said he wouldn’t care if he had to go to these events every night if it meant an increased interest in UConn Football.
  • Brought up the Civil Conflict.  I know I may be in the minority, but in my mind, it’s refreshing.  He said he called them out purely to let them know that we are UConn, we don’t like you, and we will come into your field and beat you this year.  I love it.  I don’t buy into the “bulletin board” material idea. It’s competitive athletics.  He believes in his guys and his gameplan.  Ultimately, they have to start winning or else these speeches will get old.  But I don’t have a problem with it.
  • Bob Diaco is growing his hair out.  Said he was really thinking about keeping the flow going for the year.
  • Overheard a conversation about Andreas Knappe being an avid archerist.  Can you imagine a guy that huge shooting a bow and arrow? Insane.
  • Noel Thomas’ dad was in attendance, and he even won one of the raffles.  He graciously declined and allowed someone else to win.
  • Bob Diaco drinks white wine, and was having one of his guys take down the number of some older gentlemen who invited him over for dinner.  I believe whole-heartedly Diaco would take this man up on his offer and show up for Sunday dinner.
  • Diaco spoke again briefly at the end of the evening, again stressing school spirit.  He believes something as simple as learning the fight song in crucial in improving the culture of UConn Football.  He even sang a bit of the Iowa fight song.  He said students entering the university should be endoctrined into UConn by being forced to learn the song.  He had laminated cards made up with the lyrics to the fight song, and had them passed out to those in attendance.

 
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Thoughts on the UConn Football Offseason

Coming off a 2-10 season, this figured to be a long, quiet offseason for the UConn Football program.  Season ticket holders are unhappy, the fanbase is frustrated, and it seems, at least in my circles, that nobody wants to talk UConn Football because it’s a mood killer.    However, a number of things have happened since the spring game during what is usually a dead period for college football news.  Let’s take a look and recap, and i’ll throw in my own personal thoughts along the way.

  • Byron Jones Gets Drafted by the Cowboys in the 1st Round of the 2015 NFL Draft
    • Jones was the 27th pick by the Cowboys, the highest pick ever taken from the University of Connecticut.  I love the fit here, and he most likely will start for a Dallas secondary that was below average last year.  Byron put himself on the map with his record breaking long jump during the combine, and I believe it elevated him onto the national scene and ultimately into the first round.  All reports out of Dallas are that they love him after his performance during OTA’s.  He’s a high character kid who will do nothing but represent UConn Football well.  I’m not a Cowboys fan at all, but I’m glad one of our former players finally got drafted by a high profile team.  Being the Cowboys 1st round draft choice carries more attention than being drafted 1st by almost any other team.  He has a chance to really propel himself into the national spotlight, and his success will be UConn Football’s success.

 

  • McQuillan leaves the Team
    • Disappointing, to say the least.  He was supposed to be a captain for the upcoming season.  Diaco raved about his leadership.  He is a CT kid.  And then he made a dumb decision.  He’s not the first kid to get in a fight in college, and he surely won’t be the last.  He does leave with his degree, which is fantastic, but it’s too bad how it ended for him here.  Hopefully he learns from his mistakes and will move on to future success.  On the football side of things, this opens the door for Alec Bloom, who I think is going to be a stud for us on offense the next 3 years.  He’s a big receiving target who can stretch the field, and can be a big asset in the passing game and in the red zone.  I think he’s the best receiving threat we’ve had at the position since Ryan Griffin, and Bloom is much bigger and quicker in the open field.  I’m expecting him to breakout this season, and now he has even more of an opportunity to do so.

 

  • The Civil Conflict
    • Listen, it makes no sense.  The schools are a thousand miles away. They’ve only played a handful of times.  There’s little to no history between the schools.  And, UCF had no idea about it.  However, the fact remains that as of this moment, we are in the AAC. NOBODY cares about AAC football. Nationally, the conference is a joke.  This whole stunt comes off as a joke to the rest of the country.  With all of that said…..I LOVE IT!  I love what Diaco did here.  He called out the top team in this conference and basically said, “We’re coming for you.”  He got people, not just in CT and in Florida, but around the country talking about UConn Football in May.  Sure they may have been laughing at us, but did any of those people ever talk about UConn Football before at all?  Did they even know who are coach was?  That we were in the AAC?  Outside of our state borders, nobody remembers we were in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago.  Listen, I’d rather be known for winning games and just pulverizing this lame conference, but that’s not the reality at the moment.  He pulled a stunt, a stunt that hurt nobody.  And he let people know that UConn Football exists and is calling out the top dogs in the conference that were in.  I hope they go down there this year and beat them on their home field and hoist that fake trophy afterwards.

 

  • Our first two 2016 Commitments
    • Recruiting is a fickle entity.  These kids aren’t Huskies until they sign on the dotted line in February.  However, UConn Football received its’ first two verbal commitments this past week.  The first being a 3 star, 6 foot 4, dual threat QB out of VA, Donovan Williams.  I’m not a recruiting guru, and I can’t anazlyze his high school film and tell you how it will translate to the college game.  But here’s what I do like.  He’s big.  He’s athletic.  He fits the mold of a dual threat that Diaco wants to run the QB position.  I like that he’s a guy that can do multiple things.  Looks like a good pickup.  I also like that we went into Virginia and scooped this kid up.  It seems Diaco’s plan was to stretch our recruiting area, and judging by last year’s class and the beginning of this one, we are doing just that.  I am not in the camp that we must keep the best in state kids home.  We must get the best players here, period.  I don’t care where they come from.  Some of our fanbase keeps waiting for the next Danny O, next hometown hero.  I just want to win games.  If we do that with kids from CT, or kids from West BumbleF***, I don’t care.  Start winning games.  WIth that said, the second commitment is a local kid out of Glastonbury, Keyion Dixon.  Again, from everything I read on him, the kid is an athlete.  Played QB & CB, but I believe he’s being recruited as a WR.  All good, we need athletes.  I like it.

 

@UConn813

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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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