Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
To the surprise of virtually no one UConn center Hasheem Thabeet will enter his name into the 2009 NBA Draft.
NBADraft.net has Thabeet going at No. 2 to the Los Angeles Clippers, following Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin at No. 1. Draftexpress.com projects Thabeet at No. 4 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“After spending time with my family and friends and speaking with Coach [Jim] Calhoun, I have decided to give up my final year at UConn and enter my name in the 2009 NBA Draft,” said Thabeet. “I have had a great experience at Connecticut and cannot thank my coaches and teammates enough. I look forward to the challenge of playing professionally and know that my time here at UConn has prepared me to be successful in the future. I also want to thank all of the fans in Husky Nation that have followed my career, especially those from my homeland of Tanzania, and hope they will all be as supportive of me at the professional level as they have been to this point.”
Thabeet averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots. He is the 11th player at UConn to declare early for the NBA Draft and nine of the previous ten were drafted in the first round. Eight of the ten were taken in the lottery.
“Hasheem is more than ready to make the move to the next level,” Calhoun said. “He has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of college basketball and I am certain that where ever he ends up in the NBA, he is ready to be equally successful. He is a special player and even more special as a person. He will truly be remembered as one of the great players in UConn history, not only for his accomplishments, but also because of the type of person he is.”
UConn will lose Thabeet and senior starters A.J. Price and Jeff Adrien from this year’s Final Four team (31-5), but returns a solid core in guards Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker and forward Stanley Robinson. Alex Oriakhi, a 6-8-230-pound center from The Tilton (Ma.) School, could step in and start at center.
Thabeet was named First Team All-American in 2008-09 by the NABC and the John R. Wooden Award. He was the NABC National Defensive Player of the Year and BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year in each of the past two seasons and was the 2008-09 BIG East Co-Player of the Year.
MACK GETS XAVIER JOB
Also, Chris Mack was named the new Xavier coach, succeeding Sean Miller, who took the Arizona gig. Mack, 39, will be introduced Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.