Monday, August 04, 2008

Elitism, Pt. II

Notes and quotes from the second and final day of Jim Calhoun's Connecticut Elite camp. A lot of stuff here. Ready ... go:

**Rudy Gay was a big hit speaking to the assembled campers.

"The minute he walked in the door," UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur noted, "one of the kids was saying, 'I can't believe he's standing right there.'"

In about a 15-minute speech, Gay told the two dozen top-notch recruits on-hand: "When you step in between these lines here, you see the Husky in the middle of the floor, there's a certain kind of aura that comes with it. If you want to be on the Huskies' floor, you've got to play like a Husky."

He told a story about when he and fellow ex-UConn star Caron Butler first went against each other in the NBA. Prior to the game, it was all about "we're family, we've got to stick together." But as soon as the jump-ball went up, Butler, with Gay guarding him, hit the low post immediately started yelling, "He's not ready, he's not ready! Get me the ball!" Then after the game, they were buddies again.

At one point, Gay told the campers, "we all come back, and the reason we come back is that man sitting right there" while pointing towards Calhoun.

Gay returned to his Baltimore-area home Monday afternoon but will return to this area on Saturday for Calhoun's Charity All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun (7:30 p.m.).

**"About 90 percent" of UConn's all-time great players will attend in Saturday's game, according to Calhoun, though a couple have been told by their respective NBA teams not to play. Those players may just warm up and sit on the bench during the actual game. Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Gay, Donyell Marshall and Marcus Williams are definites at this point. Jake Voskuhl is in the process of building a new home in Arizona, so he may not be able to make it.

**Originally, the Connecticut Elite camp was going to run next weekend, while all the great UConn alumni were in town so they could stop by. But the Nike Global Challenge is in Portland and the adidas Nation camp is in Texas next weekend, so UConn moved its camp up to the past two days, according to assistant coach Patrick Sellers.

**The UConn coaching staff had individual meetings with a few of their most prized recruits, including Durand Scott (see prior blog), Daniel Orton and Dominic Cheek. Orton and Cheek played at "kind of half-speed" over the past two days, according to one source close to the program. The staff was also impressed with Keran Iverson, who's going into the eighth grade but has already sprouted from 6-2 to 6-7 (and also apparently is trying to bring the high-top fade back into fashion).

**It's looking more and more like Ater Majok will be in Storrs by the start of classes. Majok, a 6-10 forward from Sudan via Australia, is still taking classes Down Under. Because Australia is on opposite seasons from the U.S., Majok might normally not be done with his academic work until about November. But because he went to the American International School and has worked hard on his academics, he should be done on time. He has already sent some of his stuff to the NCAA Eligibility Center, as a matter of fact.

**UConn commits Alex Oriakhi and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel never made it to camp after running into travel problems through Orlando on Sunday with their Boston Amateur Basketball Club AAU team. They didn't get back home until late Sunday night and were too tired to make the trip to Storrs, robbing the UConn staff the chance to see two of their highly-regarded teammates, 6-3 guard Gerard Coleman and 5-9 guard Phil Pressey.

**Kemba Walker on how he might find playing time with A.J. Price still around: "I still have time. He's got one more year, he's trying to get to the league. He's going to get his minutes. I'm going to try my best to play, but if not … it depends on what Coach Calhoun wants to do. I've got four years. His time is almost up, so I'll wait my turn."

**Gay said leaving UConn after two seasons was an extremely tough decision. "Without Coach's blessing, I don't think I could have done it."

He spoke with Hasheem Thabeet towards the end of last season while Thabeet was grappling with a similar dilemma.

"I think he made the right decision," Gay said. "He likes it here, he wants to have a long career. I told him exactly what I felt: you will be OK in the NBA, but if you want to have a long career, play long and make a lot of money, stay here and listen a little more to what Coach has to say."

**Robert "Spider" Ursery, who played at UConn from 1985-88, died on Sunday after a long battle with Hodgkin's disease. His funeral will be on Saturday morning, according to Calhoun, who got to see Ursery shortly before he died.

"The doctor said very few people he's ever seen has fought as hard as he did," Calhoun said. "He fought. Boy, he fought."

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