Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Hasheem, Ater ...

It doesn't appear that we will learn today of Hasheem Thabeet's decision on whether to stay at UConn or enter the NBA draft. He has until Sunday to enter his name into the draft, if that's his choice.

We did learn, however, that UCLA is apparently VERY interested in Ater Majok, the 6-foot-10 Sudanese native who is currently on an official visit to UConn. The Bruins would love to get Majok out to Los Angeles for a visit, but that's not a certainty right now. Majok will wrap up his visit to Storrs tomorrow and possibly visit UCLA some time next week, on his way back to Australia, where he's lived since he was 13.

Thanks to early NBA defections and other reasons, UCLA has only two frontcourt players returning next season, and word is they'd love to wrap up Majok.

Majok's coach, Edward Smith, has said that the player would like to make his final official visit to either UCLA or Kansas. Apparently, Kansas has not yet been in contact with Majok.

It's possible Majok could make his decision at the conclusion of his visit to UConn. The Huskies appear to be his top choice right now, though he thoroughly enjoyed his recent visit to the University of Kentucky.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kelly out ... Majok in? Thabeet staying?

To no one’s real surprise, Curtis Kelly will be leaving the University of Connecticut men’s basketball program.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore forward has asked permission to speak to other schools and will be transferring from UConn, the school announced on Tuesday.

"I love being here at UConn and have enjoyed my time over the past two years," Kelly said in a statement. "That was the toughest thing about this decision. But after talking with my family and with Coach (Jim) Calhoun, I feel I will have a better opportunity and get more out of my college experience if I go somewhere else."

A few weeks ago, Calhoun revealed that there would be two or three players transferring from the school for varying reasons: lack of playing time, poor academics, "social behavior" problems and a general "lack of focus." According to sources close to the program, Kelly had some problems showing up late for classes, meetings and tutorial sessions.

"Curtis and I met over the last several weeks and, although he loves the program, he would like more playing time," said Calhoun. "He and I both agree that he may have more opportunity for that playing time in another program. We wish Curtis the best of luck and success at wherever he decides to continue his college career."

Guard Doug Wiggins announced that he would be transferring from the school last week.

A top-notch recruit out of New York City’s Rice High, Kelly never quite panned out at UConn. He started just one game the past two seasons and averaged 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game for his career. This past season, he averaged just 2.0 points and 1.8 boards and missed the final six games of the season after dislocating his elbow against Villanova.

Kelly’s transfer comes a day before another 6-9 forward, Ater Majok, makes an official visit to UConn. Majok is tentatively slated to play in a scrimmage with most of the UConn team tomorrow at Gampel Pavilion around 6 p.m.

Last night, Majok was at Gampel for open gym and wound up in the midst of some serious 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 action with Hasheem Thabeet and Jerome Dyson, among others. Apparently, the games lasted until midnight -- and none of the players were in any hurry to leave even then.

(Speaking of Thabeet: the more people I talk to, the more it seems Thabeet will return to UConn for his junior season. Expect an announcement of some sort by the end of the week, possibly on Thursday).