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UConn visits the White House
The championship team got together for the first time since early-April to meet the President of the United States.
On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, the 2022-2023 Huskies got together one last time to commemorate their national championship with the leader of the free world.
The players on that team have scattered about since they claimed the program’s fifth national championship on the night of April 3rd. Nahiem Alleyne transferred to St. John’s, Richie Springs transferred to Quinnipiac, and a few other depth guys are in the portal. Joey Calcaterra had been spending time in California, and a bunch of guys are pursuing their pro dreams: Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo, and Andre Jackson competed at the NBA Combine while Tristen Newton also is testing the waters and participated in the G League Combine.
On Friday morning, most of them gathered in Connecticut for the flight down, while others met up in DC. They flew down to Dulles Airport, had a luncheon with donors, did some sightseeing around Washington DC, enjoyed the security and expedience of a police escort, and then got to the White House for a tour and reception before the ceremony with President Joe Biden.
Biden gave a shout-out to his political colleagues in attendance who were rooting for UConn, including Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, US Senator Dick Blumenthal, and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who completed a master's and doctorate at UConn. The President went on to praise Dan Hurley’s squad for starting the season 14-0, quipping that “just to keep everybody’s interest, you lost the next six of eight games.”
He then offered specific praise for Adama Sanogo, Hassan Diarra, and Samson Johnson, the players fasting for Ramadan during the NCAA Tournament.
“When three players fast through Final Four because it falls during the holy month of Ramadan, the country sees what it means to commit to something bigger than yourself,” he said.
Biden also mentioned the Jordan Hawkins flu game in the Final Four and the fact that Hawkins’ cousin Angel Reese, a women’s basketball player for LSU and fellow DMV-area native, was at the White House earlier that day. He suggested the two play a one-on-one game on the South Lawn and added that Hawkins’ uncle challenged him as well.
After Biden’s remarks, Dan Hurley took the mic.
“I always would really dread speaking after Gino Auriemma. This is a whole ‘nother level,” he said before a prepared statement and the presentation of the jersey from captains Jackson and Sanogo.
This was the final hang for the 2023 champs. It was surely a pleasure for them to re-live the memories, but a very busy offseason lies ahead.
In terms of who is going pro, the deadline to return to college is May 31. Hawkins is a surefire departure and likely first-round pick who may even be invited to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn for the NBA Draft. Sanogo is also most likely on to the next stage of his career as well.
Jackson and Newton appear to still be grappling with their decision. Big East reporter John Fanta says he thinks Newton is leaning toward returning.
In interviews after the ceremony, Jackson indicated that he was still working through his decision with his coaches and family. He’s got until Wednesday to decide. Previously we have felt that Jackson would stay based on what he said in Houston but lately, his name is coming up in more draft conversations. It may be the right time for him to go pro.