With 24 NBA scouts on hand, Daniels went 2-for-6 for seven points, one rebound and four turnovers as UConn lost to No. 25 N.C. State, 69-65, in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
“DeAndre’s gotta play better,” Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said. “Everybody knows that and he knows that, first and foremost. “I believe that he has the talent and the ability to go out and create more. Go out on that low post and not settle for the 3.”
Ollie said Daniels has a back problem, which as anyone who’s had one knows can be debilitating.
“His back locked up a little bit today and I know he’s hurting,” Ollie said.
It’s unclear how long the back problem has been an issue, but Daniels entered averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds one year after averaging 3.0 points and 2.1 boards.
“He feels the worst,” Ollie said. “We can talk all we want to but he’s competitive and he wants to play better. I know he wants to play better. No excuses and that’s what our team models itself on.”
Shabazz Napier (19 points on 6-of-14 shooting) and Ryan Boatright (18 on 8-of-20) took 34 of UConn’s 62 shots in the game.
But if UConn (6-2) is going to maximize its limited roster going forward, they will need guys like Daniels — the team’s fourth-leading scorer behind Napier, Boatright and New York City guard Omar Calhoun (five points) to add more offense.
“We need Omar to step up and he will step up,” Ollie said.. “Our guards are the lead to that but we need other guys to step up.”
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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.