Back on May 10, 2013, Kevin Ollie was coming off of his first season as head coach of the Connecticut Huskies. After being handed the position before an NCAA-sanctioned season in which the Huskies were ineligible for postseason play, Ollie impressed everyone in the college basketball world, inspiring his team to play hard every night and finishing the campaign with a 20-10 record overall.
It captured the mind and heart of four-star recruit Daniel Hamilton as well, as on this day, the shooting guard committed to Ollie and his staff and became the biggest name in the 2014-15 recruiting class for UConn. Since then, two others have also committed. Three-star recruit Rakim Lubin, a power forward, and junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr., son of longtime NBA player Sam Cassell, joined Hamilton to form a very small, yet impactful 2014-15 class.
Ranked by ESPN.com as the seventh-best shooting guard, Hamilton is a 6-foot-6 player from Los Angeles, California. Currently playing his high school ball at Saint John Bosco High School, he is currently averaging 20.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in 13 games played according to the school’s website. On a team that ranks 84th in the nation, he is consistently playing elite talent and should make an immediate impact on a team begging for a consistent high-end scorer.
Lubin is a 6-foot, 8-inch power forward out of Buford, Georgia currently playing at Buford High School. A three-star recruit, Lubin can hopefully be a contributor in the coming years, especially rebounding the basketball.
A 6-foot-4, Cassell is currently playing at Chipola College in Florida after he was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA prior to the 2012 academic year when he originally committed to Maryland. Originally from Baltimore, Cassell went with the hometown team. Now a few years later with Ollie as head coach, Cassell knew right away that UConn was the perfect fit. Ollie and Cassell’s father played together in the NBA and remain close friends to this day.
Joining the above three recruits is North Carolina State transfer Rodney Purvis. A 6-foot-4 guard, Purvis was a highly-recruited, sought-after player out of high school and ranked as the the 20th overall recruit by ESPN.com. A McDonald’s All-American, he averaged 26.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during his senior season in high school.
During his freshman season at NC State, he appeared in 35 games, started 23 and averaged 25.5 minutes, 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range. Originally recruited by UConn before that season, Purvis went with his hometown team, until he made the decision to leave and pursue his dream of reaching the NBA somewhere else. UConn will be very glad to have him.
With a starting five that could include Ryan Boatright, Purvis, Hamilton and DeAndre Daniels, this team should put up big points, especially with the likes of Cassell, Omar Calhoun and Terrance Samuel coming off the bench. However, the one major need of a big, physical rebounding body on the inside was not filled.