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Dan Hurley on the Huskies in the NBA Draft
Hurley discussed potential draft positions for Andre Jackson, Adama Sanogo, and Jordan Hawkins.
Photo: Twitter - @UConnHuskies
At the recent UConn Coaches Roadshow event, Dan Hurley shared his thoughts on tonight’s NBA Draft, which could be a historic evening for his program.
If two Huskies are picked, it would be a first since 2014. If three are picked, it would be the most UConn has had since 2006, when five Huskies were selected. The last time the program had three picks was in 1996.
Adama Sanogo is predicted by some to be an undrafted player while others see him going in the second round, including his head coach.
“He has momentum to I think potentially get into the second round,” Hurley said. “He's going to be a long-term NBA player.”
Looking back on his third season as UConn’s head coach, back in 2020, Hurley recalls how the Mali native played his way into the lineup as a freshman.
Sanogo “just dominated [Josh Carlton] every single practice, from the day he stepped foot on campus that summer all the way through to the preseason.”
“You really don't want to start the freshman over a returning, quality player,” he added, referring to Carlton. “But we would’ve lost the locker room if I wouldn't have started [Sanogo]. That guy was just special.”
The 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player may not be an ideal NBA prospect due to his current lack of shooting ability as a 6-foot-7 power forward. But he improved his shooting as a junior and still has a lot of upside as a player.
“His game has grown a lot as we've got closer to the draft,” Hurley said. “He's more skilled than you think…just a unique competitor.”
Photo Credit: Ian Bethune
By the end of the 2023 championship run, Andre Jackson had clearly proven his NBA readiness as an athlete and playmaker. It remained to be seen whether he’d stay in college for a year to round out his game or take his talents to the next level.
After participating in the NBA Combine, he decided to stay in the draft pool and appears to have played his way into first-round consideration.
Hurley sees Jackson going somewhere between No. 25 and No. 40, he said, “even though I would draft him somewhere in the early-20s because of game impact and how well he played the last 10 games of the year…when he hit full maturity as a player for us…he was the driving force behind the team that dominated the tournament.”
Hurley said he sees Hawkins going anywhere from pick No. 8 to 19. After peaking in March and April, Hawkins has slid a little in the draft conversation, which Hurley says happened because the draft process “undervalued” him compared to what the game film says.
“They're looking at other prospects that didn't go as far…no one shot the ball the way he shot the ball this year in college basketball,” he said, adding that it’s “been years since there's been a shooting prospect as good as him that's entered the NBA.
“And he's old school. His family's old school. He’s got all the right things.”
Hurley also took pride in the journey of Hawkins, and all of the guys who will have been drafted.
“They weren't in mock drafts coming in,” Hurley said. “They weren't the number one player in the country or the lottery pick coming in and we just babysat for a year. These were players that were four-star players, in some cases three-star players, that made rapid improvement [and] development in skills.”
“You start getting Steph Castle, five-star players, because of what we did with three- and four-stars.”
The sixth-year head coach anticipates a continued boost in recruiting as a result of his successes, both on the court and in career placement.
“If we can get the three guys drafted, with the national championship… [James Bouknight] in the lottery the year before, five guys drafted…recruiting gets easier. Maybe we could get closer to picking players in recruiting, because I'm still begging.”