I had a chance to stop by Gampel Pavilion Wednesday and chat with a couple of Huskies who almost didn’t make it to Storrs this season. Well, one at least.
Senior guard Ryan Boatright and freshman swingman Daniel Hamilton gave a few minutes of their time. You can read the full story in today’s Journal Inquirer, but here are a few notes and quotes:
— THE PLAYERS ARE now working out in the gym at the new “UConn Basketball Champions Center” but are not using the locker rooms yet (though they are pretty much complete). The coaches’ offices and other areas aren’t ready for use yet.
— A FEW DATES to remember:
The first day the Huskies are allowed to have “full” practices is Oct. 3, though they may not start quite that early. The NCAA allows teams 30 practices over the 42 days prior to their opener.
First Night is slated for Oct. 17, though it’s not really the start of practice anymore.
The preseason opener is Nov. 4 against Southern Connecticut State.
FYI, the full scheduled should be out later today.
— AFTER NEARLY LEAVING to enter the NBA Draft, Boatright said he’s glad to be back for his senior season.
“It feels good to be back, working out with the team and getting better with the guys,” Boatright said.
“Once I made my decision, I locked in. I’m actually glad I came back. I’m happy with my decision,” Boatright said.
It’s not the same without Shabazz Napier and company around, he admits.
“It’s a little different because of the guys that we’re missing,” Boatright said. “In all of my years, I was pretty much with the same group of guys. That’s the only different part. Since my sophomore year, me and Shabazz were the leaders. I’m used to being the leader, it’s just weird not having the guys around.”
It’s tough to follow up a national title, obviously.
“Last year we were tired of everybody talking about the 2011 team. I told the guys look at like we’re tired of everybody talking about last year’s team, let’s make everybody talk about the 2015 team.”
Boatright says he’s in great shape right now.
“The only difference is this year I’m going to drive on being in better shape,” Boatright said. “I need to be in tip-top shape so I can play 40 minutes if I have to _ on both ends of the floor at a high level.”
— WE ALL KNOW the Hamilton story by now. He didn’t sign a Letter of Intent and everyone basically freaked out.
In the end, there was no need.
“I always knew I was coming. I knew I was coming here. Told coach (Kevin) Ollie I was coming and he trusted me the whole time,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was here in the summer to take classes and begin workouts with his teammates. He says he fits in well.
“The guys love to play basketball and love to play pick-up. So that’s right up my alley, having brothers that play basketball all the time,” said Hamilton, whose older brother Jordan veteran of three NBA seasons and is currently with the Toronto Raptors. “Coming up here it’s like the same thing.”
When he spoke Wednesday, it was under the rather unseasonably warm Connecticut sun.
“I think I brought the weather out here with me,” the L.A. native said with a smile.
What will Hamilton’s role be this year?
“I’m not really sure right now. Wherever coach Ollie wants me to play, wherever I can come in and make a huge impact, really, and do whatever to help the team,” Hamilton said.