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.
The UConn men’s basketball program has received signed financial aid agreements from student-athletes Brendan Adams, Tarin Smith and Kassoum Yakwe, head coach Dan Hurley announced Thursday. All three will be eligible to join the men’s basketball team for the 2018-19 season.
“We are thrilled to have these three guys join our program,” Hurley said. “They fill obvious needs for both the short-term and long-term progress of the program. They all have backgrounds playing in strong grassroots programs and I know they will help us not only on the court, but also with their character and work ethic, to build the type of culture we want.”
Adams, a 6-4 guard from Hanover, Md., will be a freshman in the fall, while Smith, a 6-2 guard from Ocean Township, N.J., and Yakwe, a 6-8 forward from Bamako, Mali, will enroll at UConn as graduate transfers, each with one season of eligibility.
Adams comes to UConn out of Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, where he averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists as a senior last season under Coach John Bauersfeld. Ranked among the top 150 nationally by most recruiting services, Adams played AAU basketball for Team Melo. He is the younger brother of Jaylen Adams, who starred as a senior guard at St. Bonaventure last season.
“Brendan is really talented combo guard who can score on all three levels,” Hurley said. “He will help us as a really good ball-screen player and a strong perimeter shooter. He is someone who will be a big part of both our short-term and long-term plans.”
Smith comes to Storrs following a solid two-season career at Duquesne, after transferring there following his freshman campaign at Nebraska. He played in every one of Duquesne’s 64 games over the last two years, starting 36 and coming off the bench in his last 28 with impressive enough performances to earn the Atlantic 10 Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2017-18. Last season, he averaged 12.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists, producing 17 double-figure games off the bench, scoring 20 or more in five of them. The New Jersey native played his high school ball at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City under Coach Bob Hurley Sr.
“Tarin is someone I obviously have great familiarity with, since he played for my father and played in my conference for the last two years,” Hurley said. “He gives us a veteran guard with a wealth of experience and outstanding athleticism. His ability to create offensively and the impact he can have defensively is exciting.”
Adams and Smith will help fill out the UConn backcourt.
“Guard play and guard depth was obviously a weakness last season,” Hurley said. “Hopefully, these new additions will not only help our depth, but the competition is going to help make guard play a strength for us going forward.”
Yakwe is a strong frontcourt player who comes to UConn after three seasons at St. John’s. As a freshman in 2015-16, he was 16th in the nation and led the Big East Conference in blocked shots (2.7 per game), to go with 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and was named to the league’s All-Freshman Team. As a sophomore, he was second in the league in blocks (1.94). He battled injuries last year, but his three-year totals include 374 points scored (4.5), 296 rebounds (3.6) and 149 blocks (1.8).
“Early in his career, Kassoum was one of the better young defenders in the Big East, and he brings that rim protection and athletic ability to our frontcourt,” Hurley said. “With the pressure-man style of defense I like to play, it’s essential to have frontcourt players who can protect the rim. That falls in line with Kassoum’s strengths, so I feel that he will have a chance to have a big impact on the program.”
The three newcomers will join a 2018-19 UConn roster that currently includes rising seniors Jalen Adams and Eric Cobb, rising junior Kwintin Williams, rising redshirt sophomores Alterique Gilbert and Mamadou Diarra, rising sophomores Josh Carlton, Tyler Polley and Isaiah Whaley, rising redshirt freshman Sidney Wilson, and rising junior Christian Vital, who has declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft, but is eligible to return to school.
Release: Via UConn
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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.