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Who stays? Who goes?
Thoughts on the UConn roster next year.
The champagne bottles are empty and thrown away (well, hopefully recycled). The folks in Storrs are now plotting a title defense.
Throughout the Big East Tournament, the first two weekends of the NCAA Tournament, and the Final Four, conversations among Husky fans went something like this: What a great team! What happens next?
Who goes pro? Is anyone transferring?
Nothing is sacred or safe these days and, hopefully, we’ve all grown up enough to simply respect another fellow human’s decision should they choose to leave, whether it’s to start their professional career or continue their college career at another school.
Joey Calcaterra, Nahiem Alleyne, Tristen Newton, and Richie Springs participated in Senior Night, so let’s start with assuming they’re gone. With that in mind, here are the burning roster questions heading into next year.
Adama Sanogo, stay or go?
The big man seems to have accomplished just about everything one can at the college level: Final Four MOP, a national championship, two years on the all-Big East first team, and All-American honors as well.
“I've got to talk to my family,” Sanogo told Hearst’s Mike Anthony. “It's not about me. I've got to see. I've got to talk to my family, talk to the coaches, and see.”
While he may not be a first-round pick according to prognosticators right now, his stock should increase after this championship run. His improved shooting and overall offensive skillset should be attractive at the pro level. It may take some seasoning in the G League and/or overseas but Sanogo could make his way into the NBA. He hasn’t played the game for very long and brings great character to a locker room as well.
Prediction: Sanogo goes pro and latches on in the G League early on, worst case he’d probably enjoy a long career in France or elsewhere overseas if the NBA doesn’t happen. But don’t rule him out; people with far less complete skill sets have absolutely developed into NBA players over time.
Jordan Hawkins, best of luck
Dude is legit. Say bye-bye. Pro scouts dig the long ball.
Prediction: 1st round of the 2023 NBA Draft with a good shot of being a lottery pick.
Kimani Young, you deserve it
Kimani Young has been crucial to UConn’s resurgence and this year’s national championship run. Don’t forget, he also coached a big win over Villanova last year when Hurley was ejected and is an ace recruiter. It seems like Young’s time to be a head coach is coming very soon. Whether it’s this year or next, it’s coming.
Prediction: No idea. Seems like rumors are bubbling right now. That happened last year, too.
Andre Jackson wants more
Andre Jackson is certainly an intriguing pro prospect, but all indications are he wants to return to Storrs next year. If he does, the team’s nucleus is in place and anything is possible. His late-season offensive improvement has him flourishing on both ends of the court, and Very Good portal guys will want to play alongside him.
Prediction: He’ll declare without an agent, go through the process, get feedback, and come back to UConn ready to work on all of that to become a first-round prospect in 2024 while also going for the extremely rare championship repeat.
Donovan Clingan. So hot right now.
UConn fans and recruiting analysts knew that Donovan Clingan offered an enticing skill set, particularly at 7-foot-2, but few would have predicted how much of a game-changer he became as a freshman.
Clingan has caught the eyes of pro scouts all season and gained some extra attention for keeping up his game-changing play through March (and April).
This guy is ready for the pros. You can’t teach being very tall, unafraid of the moment, and the improvement in his game from the day he left high school to today. If he can maintain that trajectory, the sky’s the limit (literally - there are rumors he’s still growing, I think I heard that on Twitter Spaces).
While it’s not a dealbreaker for a GM who falls in love with him, Clingan does have to show that he has the stamina to be a difference-maker for more than the 13 minutes per game that he averaged this year. Am I reaching? You bet. If he returns to UConn with Jackson, it could be a very special season, again.
Prediction: Like Jackson, Clingan also tests the waters. Then he faces a pretty difficult decision about whether to stay at UConn or go pro. The waters could be very welcoming.
With no inside (and limited outside) intel, my guess is Clingan stays.
I just doubt that he came to UConn to hang out for a few months before going pro. Plus, he can vault himself into the lottery with one more year and also build his brand and still get paid through NIL.
What will the freshmen do?
UConn has a highly anticipated recruiting class coming in this summer, headlined by Stephon Castle. The 6-foot-6 dynamo promises to bring a new element to the roster and should slot into Newton’s role as the starting point guard. He’s currently ranked in the top 10 in his class as a five-star recruit.
We’ll look a lot more into this over the offseason, but one can also imagine Jaylin Stewart or Solo Ball getting some decent run off the bench while Jayden Ross and Youssouf Singare are most likely depth guys in their first years.