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.
UConn’s DeAndre Daniels to the NBA Draft; Boatright to Return for Senior Season
UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels is headed to the NBA Draft.
The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
The 6-foot-8 junior averaged 13.1 points and 6.0 rebounds but helped himself tremendously as UConn made its run to the NCAA championship. He went for 27 points and 10 rebounds in the Sweet 16 against Iowa State and 20 and 10 against Florida in the national semifinals.
“I just felt like this was the right time for me,” Daniels said. “I sat down with my family and we discussed it and everyone agreed, but the final decision was still mine and it was hard. I had a great career at UConn and I wouldn’t change it for the world, and to go out on top like we did makes it even better.”
“DeAndre has made an enormous contribution to the success we have enjoyed at UConn, both on the court and in the classroom,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Besides being an outstanding basketball player, he is a quality young man. We wholeheartedly support the decision he has made and wish him nothing but success as he moves ahead with his basketball career. He will always be part of our UConn family.”
Daniels is now projected at No. 27 in the 2014 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, while teammate Shabazz Napier is projected at No. 29.
“He played well at the end of the year,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv Friday. “He had a very inconsistent effort through his three years at UConn. He needs to get stronger, develop better ball skills and become a better perimeter defender as a 3. He has some upside but he is still a second-round pick because he lacks toughness and true 3 skills. He is not a 4 at the next level.”
Daniels has long been considered a potential NBA talent, but he’s been tagged as “soft” from the day he stepped onto campus at UConn, when he chose the Huskies over Kansas and Texas.
“If you saw him all year prior to the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament, you’d have said the guy should be playing in the WNBA, right?,” the scout said.
“He didn’t get anything done, shied away from contact, couldn’t finish, wanted to just live out on the perimter, wasn’t really knocking down shots, didn’t go hard at anybody, just physically not ready.”
Said a second scout: “To me, he has to be tougher, more consistent. He’s very talented. Kids like him are very difficult to assess because their production level in the game varies so much. He has very good physical tools, length, the ability to run and jump, but he’s not strong enough. He has the body that can turn into an NBA body.”
He added: “Inconsistency has been this theme. He’s very talented.”
Still, a light went on for Daniels during March Madness, even if he couldn’t quite explain why.
“Just keep playing basketball,” Daniels said at the Final Four. “Sometimes people go through slumps, and I’m playing great basketball at the right time of the year. Just playing hard, just most importantly our whole team is out there having fun and we’re sharing the game and that’s the main thing we’re going right now, is just keep having fun.”
Daniels’ play impressed Florida coach Billy Donovan, who said he was much different from the player who went for 14 and 7 in UConn’s 65-64 win Dec. 2.
“We recruited DeAndre some coming out of high school,” Donovan said. “I was always impressed with his length, his offensive ability. It looked like earlier on…he just struggled to find his way. I think he’s probably come to grips with who he is as a player and how he needs to play and how [UConn coach] Kevin [Ollie] wants him to play to impact his team.
“He’s really become extremely versatile. He posts up, he shoots threes, he’s putting it on the floor, he can start the break, he passes, he rebounds, he’s playing really hard for their team. I think watching Uonn now and getting prepared for them in December, there’s no question he’s really continued to progress and grow.”
BOATRIGHT TO RETURN
Junior guard Ryan Boatright will return to school for his senior season, UConn coach Kevin Ollie confirmed to SNY.tv.
“I couldn’t be happier that Ryan will be back with us next season,” Ollie said, “not only for his terrific basketball talents, but to provide tremendous senior leadership for us, both on and off the court. The growth and maturity he has shown throughout his career has been wonderful and I expect that to continue as he works toward his degree.”
Boatright, who was not projected to be drafted, averaged 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists this past season for the NCAA champion Huskies. He figures to have a huge role next year with Shabazz Napier gone.
The Huskies will also return freshman guard Terrence Samuel and sophomore guard Omar Calhoun and add N.C. State transfer Rodney Purvis and junior college guard Sam Cassell.
Meantime, UConn forward Amida Brimah underwent left-shoulder surgery on Friday will be out 4-5 months.
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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.