Unfortunately for UConn Huskies basketball fans, we are rapidly approaching the end of a season that has had many ups and downs but thus far has exceeded expectations.
Usually around this time of year in Storrs, preparations are underway for the Big East tournament and hopes are building for a fourth national championship.
But this season is different. The Huskies are ineligible for any form of postseason play due to academic problems and NCAA-imposed sanctions.
So with no hope of tournaments or championships dancing in their heads, fans of the team are instead forced to look ahead to recruiting and whether or not Kevin Ollie will prove to be as good off the court as he has been on it.
UConn has the pieces in place, assuming they all stay put, to compete next year at both the conference and national levels. And thus far their recruiting class has fallen into place nicely, adding pieces that will strengthen the team in the immediate and long-term future.
Before he retired in mid-September, legendary coach Jim Calhoun secured the Huskies two solid recruits in 6'9" power forward Kentan Facey and shooting guard Terrence Samuel.
Facey, an ESPN 100 recruit, is considered by many to have one of the biggest upsides of any incoming recruit in the nation.
He's long and very athletic under the basket, two traits the Huskies have not had in abundance this season. The improvement he's shown this season at Long Island Lutheran should give fans a great deal of optimism for how he'll fit in under the new regime in Storrs. He's very coachable and has a great relationship with his teammates.
His commitment to the program couldn't be stronger, as he became a UConn fan when he first came to the United States from Jamaica during the Huskies' improbable run to a national title in 2011.
It was this run that convinced him to enroll in the school despite scholarship offers from other prominent programs such as Louisville, UCLA and Memphis.
Shooting guard Terrence Samuel, out of South Shore High School in Brooklyn, is a teammate of Facey's in AAU ball and also committed to the program before Jim Calhoun's retirement. He's still a work in progress in certain aspects of his game but has shown to be an outstanding passer with great court vision. With Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and the emerging Omar Calhoun already on the roster he will have the time to develop.
The lone man on UConn's three-man recruiting ledger thus far for 2013 to have been reeled in by Kevin Ollie is 6'11" big man Amida Brimah.
Brimah, out of Archbishop Carroll High School in Miami, is the type of big inside presence that the Huskies have coveted in the past. He's extremely long and plays the game with a tremendous amount of energy. He can run the floor better than most big men but is considered by some to still be very raw.
The talent is absolutely there. In the hands of a good coach, Brimah can be sculpted into a dominant force on the inside.
As of this writing these are the only three players to make it known that they intend to play basketball at UConn next season.
It's difficult to really say where this class will end up (though these three commitments are a promising sign) and whether Kevin Ollie will be able to land the type of recruits that can fill the holes and restore the program to prominence.
The early returns are good and the 2013 class is shaping up to be strong and help fill in some of the bigger holes that have limited the Huskies this season.
That's especially true when you look at the emphasis on bigger, more athletic inside players.
But as of right now with only three players committed, the jury is still out even while there's reason for hope.
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