College basketball has had a completely different feel to it the last 5 years after UConn won their 4th National Championship in 15 years. The Huskies lost arguably the greatest coach of all-time, Jim Calhoun, but were able to win a National Championship with the majority of his players. Most fans will come to UConn’s defense and blame two things for UConn’s downfall these last 5 years; The AAC and Kevin Ollie. Thankfully for everyone who cares about college basketball and UConn, those now don’t involve UConn.
On July 1st, 2020 UConn will become an official member of the Big East for the second time. Everyone knows how dominant UConn was in their first run in the Big East which included 7 Big East tournament titles and 3 National Championships. I was able to talk with former UConn guard who won a Big East title and National Championship before going onto be a first round draft pick in the NBA Draft; Marcus Williams, to hear what this move meant for the Huskies.
A strong fan base like UConn will always have strong support no matter what happens, for Marcus he was still supporting but “the Big East fits us more than the AAC. We come from a certain essence that I can’t wait to see us get back in.” Agreeing with most of the fans, this move gets them to where everyone feels they belong. Williams said “the move definitely was a stepback as far as basketball is concerned.”
Dan Hurley, who replaced Kevin Ollie in 2018, had a very tough task of getting UConn back to the top but doing it in the AAC. The AAC makes it very hard to recruit top prospects because stepping in the front door of a recruits house and saying we can go play Tulsa and ECU, doesn’t seem as appealing as Seton Hall and Villanova, both within bussing distance of Storrs.
Marcus had a great understanding of the difficulty of recruiting, “No disrespect to the AAC, but kids don’t want to go to UConn to play in that conference. UConn has always matched talent and grit while playing in the Big East. They were able to recruit anyone, I think the recruitment will take a leap due to the conference again.”
UConn landed the #20 class in the country according to 247, and expect that to improve as time goes on.
For anyone choosing to question the hire of Dan Hurley, he fits the UConn mold very well. “Dan is a very tough guy. I think his pedigree matches the history of what UConn has brought to the table. Once they can get certain recruits back in the system, I think Dan will then have a fair shot to have the program rolling like it once was.”
The fans, the alums, the players, and the coaches are all fired up for this return to the Big East. Keep an eye out for an early splash in the Big East as their recruiting has already improved to go with star sophomore James Bouknight.