Sunday, March 09, 2008

An African Connection at UConn?

Could UConn have an African connection on its front line for the next year ... or two? A couple of interesting hints that it could happen popped up this evening. Consider:

Ater Majok's original plan was to watch UConn's game with Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon on an unofficial visit, then head down to Kentucky to watch the Wildcats play Florida in an SEC battle today. That changed when the UConn-Cincy game was postponed on Saturday until this evening.

"He thought his priority was to see UConn play," said Ed Smith, Majok's coach at the American International School in Carlington, Australia.

So there was Majok, along his 17-year-old cousin, Majok Majok, and Smith behind the Huskies' bench today. From all appearances, Majok's visit to Storrs went very well.

"From what we've seen here, the kid has a real good feel for the place," Smith said.

Smith added that Majok, an intriguing, 6-foot-9 forward from Sudan via Australia, has narrowed his list of schools down to UConn, Kentucky, Kansas and Baylor. He has yet to visit Kentucky or Kansas. Majok will return to Australia on Saturday but return to the U.S. in mid-April, when he may make an official to UConn and also may visit Kentucky and Kansas. He'd like to make his decision by mid-April.

***

As for the Huskies' current player of African descent, Hasheem Thabeet, it's possible the NBA riches may be put off for another year -- or two -- by the 7-foot-3 Tanzanian.

When asked tonight if he had just played his final game at Gampel, Thabeet – a sophomore who could be a first-round NBA draft pick in June – pointed out with just a hint a wry smile: "No, it's the last game this season. There's a couple more seasons to come. I'm only a sophomore, so …"

Said UConn coach Jim Calhoun: "Big picture-wise, he needs another year of college, offensively. Defensively he doesn't, he really doesn't … I would love to see him be able to play in the NBA for 12, 15 years. One of the ways to do that is to make sure you're ready when you go in, so that after your second year, it's $14 (million) for six years or something, and you can set up your family for years and years."

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