UConn Men’s Basketball Recruited ‘Exactly’ What Staff Have Been Looking For So Far


SOUTHINGTON — UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley thinks the program added the right pieces through the transfer portal this spring.

“From a positional standpoint and a skill set that they have,” Hurley said Monday ahead of a UConn Coaches Road Show event at Kinsmen Brewing, “it was really exactly what I was thinking about in the morning. after our loss (in the first round of the NCAA Tournament).

There’s Tristen Newton, a 6-foot-5 point guard from East Carolina who can score on anyone; Nahiem Alleyne, a Virginia Tech 3-point shooter; and more recently, Hassan Diarra, a handyman whose brother, Mamadou Diarra, has been a student/graduate assistant for the past three seasons.

And, with three more scholarships open, there’s more to come.

“We feel like we want to be at 12 (purses),” Hurley said. “We want the flexibility of not going beyond 12, especially with the state of the game.”

Men’s programs receive 13 scholarships. But with players so ready and able to transfer after a season of sparse playing time (as UConn learned last season), filling all the purses might not make sense.

“We would love to continue adding a player with a perimeter advantage who could potentially help us,” added Hurley. “With 11 or 12, I think one of those positions also has to be someone who will improve the program on a daily basis as we prepare for a big year…an older guy and a younger guy.”

In fact, Hurley noted that the Huskies could only choose to fill one more spot on the roster. It also frees up a spot or two in case any 2023 recruits decide to sign up early.

Diarra, a 6-2 guard, joined the Huskies last week after spending the past two seasons at Texas A&M. The New York native performed for three years at nearby Putnam Science Academy.

“He’s a guard who’s a creator, who can get into the paint and make plays,” Hurley noted. “He has a tenacity and a fearlessness about him, in big moments. Obviously, we have seen it a lot. When the kids go to the portal, you put on as many movies as you can watch. But also, the number of times we’ve seen him play at Putnam and AAU, he’s just what the roster needed.

UConn still has work to do, Hurley noted, “to get depth and competition and more talent in the program, so we can be better than we were last year.”

But so far so good.

“It went as we imagined,” added the coach, “just bringing in some good players who are going to help us on the perimeter, especially with the transfer gate guys.”

What can Brown do for Iona?

It was announced over the weekend that Taliek Brown, the former star point guard who served as the Huskies’ director of player development for the past four seasons, has accepted a job as Rick Pitino’s assistant at Iona.

“Taliek had chances, and it was the first one that I think made a lot of sense to him,” Hurley said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to gain experience in the field and get involved in recruitment. And obviously, (Pitino) is a Hall of Fame coach.

On the road

About 250 fans paid to mingle with Hurley and fellow UConn coaches Geno Auriemma (women’s basketball), Jim Mora (soccer), Jim Penders (baseball) and Laura Valentino (softball) at Monday’s event.

“It’s great to be around the fans,” Hurley said. “Sport is not sport without fans, especially since UConn fans are so passionate. They love their Huskies.

The Road Show will make its second stop on Tuesday at Two Roads Brewing in Stratford from 6-8 p.m. Hurley, Auriemma and Mora will be joined by hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh.

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