Dan Hurley and the UConn men’s basketball team return three rotation players from the 2021-22 roster that made it to the NCAA Tournament, only to lose in the first round.
That trio: Adama Sanogo, Big East preseason player of the year and team captain, Andre Jackson Jr., co-captain, and Jordan Hawkins, ready for a breakout sophomore season – will catch the headlines, but the 13 players around them are what will be the difference between success and disappointment.
The four transfers – Tristen Newton, Hassan Diarra, Nahiem Alleyne and Joey Calcaterra – will be key. Each of them with years of Division I experience and ability to help the Huskies spread the floor, opening driving lanes for Hawkins and Jackson, and clearing the paint for big man Sanogo. Hurley, in his fifth year at UConn, also brought in the 7-2 center from Bristol, Donovan Clingan, and Alex Karaban, a 6-8 shooter.
“We feel like we have enough talent,” Hurley said, “and if we can just kind of get all these pieces working the right way, it’s potentially our best team.”
Here’s a look at Hurley’s 2022-23 Huskies:
2 Tristen Newton
6-5, 190, G, Sr., El Paso, Texas
A transfer from East Carolina with two years of eligibility remaining, Newton can be a three-level scorer and a willing playmaker for the Huskies. Newton averaged 17.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.4 steals during the 2021-22 season.
3 Joey Calcaterra
6-3, 180, G, Gr., Novato, California
A transfer from San Diego State, “Joey California,” as Hurley calls him, is best known for his three-point shot – which, consequently, was the reason Hurley targeted him in the transfer portal. Calcaterra shot 35.7% from beyond the arc through over four years, attempting more than 320 three-pointers.
4 Nahiem Alleyne
6-4, 195, G, Sr., Buford, Georgia
Alleyne is also a transfer, from Virginia Tech, and a three-point shooter. Over three years with the Hokies, he attempted 395 threes at a 38.6% clip. Admittedly scared when he entered the transfer portal, Alleyne said he was surprised that he got UConn’s attention and once he arrived it was “surreal.”
5 Hassan Diarra
6-2, 190, G, Jr., Queens, New York
Diarra, who spent his previous two seasons with Texas A&M, averaged 6.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season and will have three years of eligibility left. His brother, Mamadou, is in his first year as the team’s Director of Player Development. Mamadou played 33 games for the Huskies from 2017-19 before chronic knee conditions forced him to give up his playing career and pursue a career in coaching.
11 Alex Karaban
6-8, 210, F, R-Fr., Southborough, Massachusetts
Enrolled at UConn during the spring semester of last year and practiced with the team but was unable to play in games. Karaban is expected to be a strong three-point shooter for the Huskies.
13 Richie Springs
6-9, 235, F, R-Jr., Brooklyn, New York
In his fourth year with the Huskies, Springs has built a reputation for offensive rebounding and outside shooting. Over the summer he worked with skills trainer David Zenon, who has worked with NBA, WNBA and college athletes.
20 Andrew Hurley
6-1, 170, G, Jr., Glastonbury, Connecticut
Son of Dan Hurley, Andrew joined the Huskies prior to last season as a walk-on. When it was announced, Luke Reilly, Andrew’s coach at East Catholic, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew followed in the family business of coaching basketball.
21 Adama Sanogo
6-9, 245, F, Jr., Bamako, Mali
Big East preseason player of the year, Sanogo is the main presence on the UConn roster. The roster built around him, Hurley hopes the Huskies will be able to spread the floor to free up space for Sanogo in the paint – part of that meaning he has developed a three-pointer of his own.
24 Jordan Hawkins
6-5, 195, G, So., Gaithersburg, Maryland
Expectations for Hawkins in his sophomore season are through the roof. Hurley said he’d likely be at the talent level of a first-round draft pick by the end of the season and Hawkins showed why during the team’s Blue/White scrimmage on Wednesday. In 10 minutes of game time, Hawkins scored 14 of his team’s 16 points on four threes, mostly contested, and a pull-up mid-range jumper.
30 Yarin Hasson
6-9, 180, F, Fr., Gan Yavne, Israel
Hasson, who played on Israel’s under-18 national team, originally committed to the University of Denver before asking for his release in early August. He is considered a versatile but raw front-court player, able to play the small or power forward positions.
32 Donovan Clingan
7-2, 265, C, Fr., Bristol, Connecticut
Clingan, the No. 51 prospect in his class according to ESPN, starred at Bristol Central, averaging 27.3 points, 17.2 rebounds, 5.8 blocks and 3.1 assists in 2021 and was named the Connecticut Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year. He has impressed Hurley with his adjustment to the Big East style of play, and will be able to give Sanogo some important minutes of rest.
33 Apostolos Roumoglou
6-7, 205, G, Fr., Xanthi, Greece
The final scholarship signee this year for the Huskies, Roumoglou joined the program on Sept. 9, after the team had spent much of the summer working out together, so he’ll likely have a slow transition onto the court. He shot 31.3% from the field and 37% from three for the Greek under-18 team in the FIBA European Challenges last year.
35 Samson Johnson
6-10, 215, F, So., Lome, Togo
Impressive during the first few closed-door scrimmages and then again at Blue/White night, Johnson has the ability to be a two-way player with bounce. Sometimes, in practice, he’ll talk with Sanogo in French but he swears they’re “not talking junk.”
40 Andre Johnson Jr.
6-4, 160, G, Fr., Bristol, Connecticut
A preferred walk-on playmaker from South Kent Prep, Johnson made it a goal of his to continue working in the weight room and learn how to pick his spots.
41 Emmett Hendry
6-3, 156, G, Fr., Brooklyn, New York
Hendry walked-on the 2022-23 roster after spending a year on the Montverde Academy post grad roster. He is the third preferred walk-on on this Huskies team, the others Andre Johnson Jr. and Andrew Hurley.
44 Andre Jackson Jr.
6-6, 210, G, Jr., Amsterdam, New York
Sanogo’s co-captain and the unequivocal leader of the team on and off the court, Jackson has embraced his leadership role, trying to make all of the new faces comfortable. He is expected to have the ball in his hands a lot more without RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin, but will be more of a playmaker on both ends of the floor than anything. He is expected to return from a broken pinky finger later this month.