UConn Tidbits: Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith, Maurice Harkless, Kemba Walker, Angelo Chol, Tony Wroten


Not surprisingly, this is a slow period for news about the UConn Huskies.  But today, for some reason, there seem to be a few tidbits floating around that are worth mentioning:

Alex Oriakhi is playing in the Hartford Pro-Am.  The Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony watched him play.  Anthony reports that Oriakhi has spent the off-season “working tirelessly” on his post moves, and that as a result of hitting the weight room twice a day, has really chiseled his physique.

Anthony reports that Oriakhi has been playing physically in the Pro Am, which is usually more of a wide-open affair.  For whatever reason, however, he failed to report how many points Oriakhi scored.

Personally, given Oriakhi’s struggles during his freshman season, I’d really like to read that he was attending a Big Man camp, if those are still held.  I think he needs daily competition, going up against like-sized, skilled players, and some coaching from guys that specialize in teaching post players.  But kudos to Oriakhi, who sounds as if he’s really working hard to improve.

If you’re looking for some reasons to be optimistic about next season, consider these statistics:

Player
Minutes per game
Points per game
Shooting %
Rebounds per game
Blocks per game
Oriakhi
24.6
5.0
.460
6.6
1.59
Thabeet
24.6
6.2
.554
6.4
3.81
31.0
10.5
.603
7.9
4.45
31.8
13.6
.640
10.8
4.22
Okafor
30.0
7.9
.590
9.0
4.06
32.9
15.9
.580
11.2
4.73
32.4
17.6
.599
11.5
4.08

Oriakhi’s freshman numbers compared favorably with those of Thabeet and Okafor, with the primary exception of blocked shots.  His shooting percentage is also lower, but I believe that has as much to do with how he was used – you didn’t see a lot of lob passes throw his way.

While I do not believe that Oriakhi has the same upside as Okafor, I believe that he can post similar numbers to those of Thabeet, with the exception of blocked shots.  I think he should be able to score 10-11 points per game with 8-9 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

The Courant article about Oriakhi appears here:

http://blogs.courant.com/uconn_mens_basketball/2010/07/alex-oriakhi-looking-sounding.html

Roscoe Smith finally made his debut at the Pro Am, scoring 14 points, though Mike Anthony described his performance as “non-descript”, and “so-so”, noting that he played better later in the game.  Anthony reports that Smith has the ability to create his own shot, something that Stanley Robinson at small forward was not capable of doing.  I haven’t seen Smith, but I fully agree with that assessment of Robinson.

A couple of other tidbits about Smith: he seems to be something of a gym rat, staying and shooting on his own well past midnight.  Second, Jim Calhoun describes him as having a ‘pro body’ – sounds like he will not get saddled with the nickname “Sticks”.

The Roscoe Smith article in the Courant appears here:

http://www.courant.com/sports/uconn-men/hc-roscoe-smith-0729-20100729,0,3316959.story

The Sporting News has an interview with former UConn recruit Maurice Harkless, who verbally committed in the fall but reopened his recruiting recently.  Harkless cites the desire to see what else is out there, but specifically names Jim Calhoun’s health “and all that” as a concern.  Contrary to earlier reports, Harkless says he may still commit to the Huskies, says he will pare his long list ( he names Kansas, Louisville, Florida, Maryland, Memphis, Florida State, Miami, St. John’s, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and says there are a lot of others) down to 5 or 6 soon, and says he will commit in the fall.

Harkless, who had dropped from around 50th in the ranking to 99th, has been starring on the summer circuit, and his stock is rising.

The Sporting News article appears here:
Read more: http://www.sportingnews.com/college-basketball/article/2010-07-29/maurice-harkless-i-wanted-see-what-else-there-for-me#ixzz0v7flSF4A

Finally, Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated was in Las Vegas watching 3 separate events: the Adidas Super 64 and the Fab 48. The third was the USA Basketball trials.  Davis reports on three players of interest to Huskies’ fans:

‘Kemba Walker: “He has good quickness and speed, but he just turns it over too much. He’s too erratic. That was the problem with UConn’s team last year was that he and [Jerome] Dyson turned it over too much and didn’t value the ball enough.” ‘

That from an anonymous NBA scout – it’s not clear to me if that’s based on recent evaluation or from last season.

Angelo Chol, a 6’9” forward.  Davis describes him as a sleeper, but he’s ranked as the 5th best center and 51st overall recruit by rivals.com, which sounds pretty high to me.  He is a UConn recruiting target.

Tony Wroten, the 6’5” guard who once appeared to have UConn at the top of his list, but now according to Davis is at the center of a tug-of-war between Washington and Kentucky.  Davis has the following to say about Wroten:

“Wroten’s assets were obvious, but so were his flaws. He is a big, strong kid with incredible raw athleticism. He can get to the basket any time he wants, and on one sequence, when his teammate threw a low pass for an alley-oop, Wroten was still able to catch the ball on his way up and flush it with ease.

And yet, like most high school players, Wroten still has a lot of improving to do. He has no outside shot whatsoever, and he lacks the ability to finish with his right hand, even on a simple, wide-open layup. This might barely merit a mention aside from the fact that Wroten wrote on his Twitter feed over the weekend that if he wasn’t ranked No. 1 in his class, then there shouldn’t be any rankings. I understand writers and fans like to pay attention to the rankings — I certainly mentioned them enough in this column — but when players pay too much attention to them, to me it’s a bad portent, IMHO.”

Let me say that I agree with some of Davis’ comments about Wroten – he sounds like he has a huge ego and need for attention, both of which suggest to me that he will end up at Kentucky via a grandiose announcement.  Interestingly, he sounds like the kind of flawed player that UConn usually winds up with – such as Taliek Brown, who was a fine player but couldn’t shoot at all.

The CNNSI article appears here:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/seth_davis/07/28/vegas.stars/1.html

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