NEW YORK — Jim Calhoun hasn’t stated publicly yet whether he will return as the head coach at defending NCAA champion UConn.
But after spending the month of July on the recruiting trail, he’s telling recruits he’s in it for the long haul.
“He said, ‘As long as I’m standing, I’m going to be coaching,'” Christ the King guard Omar Calhoun, who committed to UConn for 2012, told SNY.tv Saturday after he scored a team-best 34 points in Team New York’s victory over Team USA in the inaugural Franchise Classic.
“He said he wants to make me reach my potential. He wants to get me to the NBA. That’s the kind of coach I want to play for.”
Chris McCullough, a 6-9 2014 forward from New York, took an unofficial visit to UConn last week with several AAU teammates.
“I think Calhoun will be there by the time Chris leaves for school,” said his AAU coach, Terrance “Munch Williams. “He’s planning on winning another national championship.”
DeAndre Daniels, a 6-9 wing who committed to UConn in June, told SNY.tv that Calhoun promised him he would return for at least this season.
“[Calhoun said] I don’t have to worry about him not being there,” Daniels said in June. “He said he’ll be there.”
UConn President Susan Herbst announced last month that the school will perform a “review” of the athletic department, which many expect will signal the end of AD Jeff Hathaway’s tenure.
It is no secret that Calhoun and Hathaway, also the chair of the 2012 NCAA men’s basketball selection committee, have a frosty relationship, and Calhoun has gone out of his way to praise Herbst.
“She wants me to stay for a couple years,” the 69-year-old Calhoun, who has three years left on his contract, said in May at the New York Athletic Club. “She’s already said that to me in a whole bunch of different ways, contractually and otherwise.”
Calhoun, who has three years remaining on his deal, may be waiting for a decision on Hathaway’s fate before making a public announcement.
Yet behind the scenes, the recruits and their coaches say he’s fired up about trying to win another championship.
“At the end of the day I committed to a national championship team with Coach Calhoun, coach [Kevin] Ollie, coach [Glen] Miller,” Omar Calhoun said. “They’re great coaches that want to get players better. I just want to get better. I stay in the gym all the time and I just work on my game.”
Another reason for Calhoun to stick around is Andre Drummond.
Though the 6-foot-10 Drummond could elect to head straight to the NBA in 2012 — depending on the new collective bargaining agreement — he also could land at UConn for a year. Drummond recently trimmed his list to five schools, UConn, Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia and Georgetown.
For his part, Omar Calhoun said he’s working on recruiting some big men, including Drummond, to join the Huskies.
“We’re trying to recruit some big men, guys like Jarnell [Stokes], Anthony Bennett, Andre Drummond, guys like that,” Omar said.
Asked if he had a strong relationship with Drummond, Omar Calhoun said, “We’ve been to a lot of camps together and stuff like that.”
Regardless of who joins him, Omar says he’s ready to go and he believes the man who shares his last name will be at UConn to coach him.
“I just want to make sure that I’m working hard on my individual game so whoever comes,” he said, “we’ll be ready to make it happen.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.