A look ahead at UConn men’s basketball class of 2023 and 2024 targets with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi – Hartford Courant

This offseason, the UConn men’s basketball staff has been busy on the recruiting trail to add to their class of 2023 and 2024 commits.

Currently, the Huskies have one commit, Stephon Castle from Georgia. Castle is a 6-foot-6 combo guard ranked No. 54 in the class of 2023 ESPN Top-100.

Including Castle, UConn has offered scholarships to 13 players in the class of 2023 and three in the class of 2024, according to 247sports. Although not listed, Scotty Middleton has also been offered.

Three players offered have committed elsewhere: James Johns Jr. to Fairfield, Simeon Wilcher to North Carolina and Mackenzie Mgbako to Duke. Justin Edwards released a top five, but the Huskies didn’t crack the list. The rest are still considering UConn.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley, associate head coach Kimani Young, assistant coach Tom Moore and assistant coach Luke Murray constantly review video of players before making an offer.

“It’s collaborative among the four of us when we watch film,” Moore said. “Nowadays, because the recruiting live periods are so small, we get to see so little of these guys in person. We have to do a lot of these things on Synergy. It’s like a think tank when we look at kids. “

Moore said Hurley excels at identifying guard and wing talent.

“He’s got a great eye for picking up things that guys do that he likes,” Moore said. “Super, subtle things. How to pass a ball and how did they catch a ball. Which hand do they beat pressure and which hand do they beat a trap with. Finishing shots at the rim, left foot, right foot, left hand, right hand, Hurley picks up things that are really uncanny. “

Paul Biancardi is ESPN’s national recruiting director but previously coached at various places, including Boston College as an assistant coach when Hurley played at Seton Hall.

Biancardi said Hurley looks for a specific treat in his commits.

“I think for Danny, you have to be serious about the game,” Biancardi said.

“The staff does a magnificent job of not just evaluating the talent, but understanding you have to peel back some layers to find out who the person is, not just the player.”

The most challenging aspect for any coaching staff is finding the indicators that the player will be successful at the next level. However, Biancardi believes certain characteristics tend to lead to success in college basketball.

“The traits and characteristics, they protect the talent you have,” he said. “There has to be a level of self-start, self-motivation, self-discipline, work habits. Those are the things that put you over the hump if the talent is there. ”

Here’s a closer look at the class 2023 and 2024 players UConn has made offers to:

Name: Jayden Lemond

Class ranking: Not in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Point guard

Size: 6 feet 3, 170 pounds

High school: Blair’s Academy in Blairstown, NJ

Hometown: Englewood, NJ

Summary: According to 247sports, Lemond has 13 offers, but UConn has recruited him since 2020. He’s a quick and shifty guard who can beat defenders off the dribble to get to the rim. In addition, Lemond can finish through traffic and makes the right decision with the ball. He praised UConn to Jacob Polacheck of Zagsblog.com: “I really like the guard play. They have good guards and a lot of New Jersey talent. That’s really good. “

Name: Taison Chatman

Class ranking: No. 63 in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Shooting guard

Size: 6-4, 170 pounds

High school: Totino-Grace in Minneapolis

Hometown: Minneapolis

Summary: Chatman received an offer from UConn in late April. “Excellent prospect,” Biancardi said. “He’s a great shooter and plays on-balance. He has a high IQ. He’s a mature scoring guard. ” Chatman would fit in well in Hurley’s new four-out, one-in-motion offense as his shooting ability opens up the floor.

Name: Darius Carr

Class ranking: Not in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Combo guard

Size: 6-3, 190 pounds

High school: Cathedral in Los Angeles

Hometown: Playa Del Rey, Calif.

Summary: UConn sent an offer to Carr on April 16, the ninth school to send him an offer to that point. He’s got elite athleticism. “I like Carr,” Biancardi said. “He’s a quick-twitch athlete. He gets into the paint with the drive game. Excellent finisher. His ability to defend on the ball could be a strength of his down the road. He’s best as a mid-range shooter. He thrives in transition as a finisher. “

Name: Taylor Bowen

Class ranking: No. 50 in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Small forward

Size: 6-9, 195 pounds

High school: Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH

Hometown: Newport, RI

Summary: Bowen has been a popular prospect with 25 offers, but his first unofficial visit was to UConn in August 2021. “He’s a gifted player,” Biancardi said. “When you get to the level of talent and you make the game look easy, you don’t have to put them one spot on the court. I think he brings that versatility to a roster. He’s a smooth player. He has a good combination of fluidity and athleticism that’s hard to find at a young age. “

Name: Gavin Griffiths

Class ranking: No. 26 in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Small forward

Size: 6-7, 185 pounds

High school: Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford

Hometown: West Hartford

Summary: Griffiths is a hometown kid and was offered by the Huskies in October 2021. He’s an elite shooter that can shoot from anywhere on the floor. He has an impressive leaping ability as well. Griffiths praised the Huskies’ staff. “That relationship has been good,” he said to 247sports’ Dushawn London. “It’s 40 minutes down the street from me so that’s the hometown school. I have a good relationship with Coach Hurley and Coach Murray, who are the guys recruiting me. “

Name: Andrej Stojakovic

Class ranking: Not in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Small forward

Size: 6-6, 185 pounds

High school: Jesuit

Hometown: Carmichael, Calif.

Summary: Son of former NBA player Peja Stojakovic, Andrej has been tied to UConn from a young age as he used to watch former UConn star Rudy Gay play on the Kings. On April 15, he got an offer from UConn. Like his father, he’s an impressive shooter. “Excellent shooter,” Biancardi said. “An IQ to play off the ball. He’s one of the better shooters in the class. He understands spacing. He understands how to come off a screen and get open without the ball. When he catches it, he shoots it with great offensive confidence. “

Name: Scotty Middleton

Class ranking: No. 19 in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Small forward

Size: 6-6, 180 pounds

High school: Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kansas

Hometown: Miami

Summary: UConn was named on Middleton’s final five schools list he released in April. He can do a little bit of everything on the court. “Middleton is the real deal,” Biancardi said. “He’s got incredible versatility. He can post up. He can drive and can get out on the break. He gets to the free-throw line and rebounds. He’s a committed defender. He has excellent athleticism in terms of later quickness and speed. He is one of the most versatile players in the class. “

Name: Isaiah Miranda

Class ranking: No. 39 in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Center

Size: 7-0, 200 pounds

High school: Commonwealth Academy in Springfield

Hometown: Malvern, Pa.

Summary: Miranda has 19 offers and received an offer from UConn in June 2021. He’s an impressive shooter with the ability to handle the ball. On the defensive end, he deters players from driving to the rim. Miranda likes Hurley’s style. “When I visited there, I saw they practice and play very hard, he said to Jamie Shaw of On3.com. “Coach Hurley doesn’t let up at all on their guys; he takes everything very seriously. The biggest driver for their team is their bigs. The bigs put out the most energy of anyone on the court, and I like that. “

Name: JP Estrella

Class ranking: Not in 2023 ESPN Top-100

Position: Center

Size: 6-11, 210 pounds

High school: Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH

Hometown: South Portland, Maine

Summary: UConn sent an offer to Estrella on May 5. He’s a quintessential back-to-the-basket center. “The big fellow is really tall, long and just coming into his own,” Biancardi said. “He’s still thin but really skilled and skilled with his back to the basket. He’s got footwork. He’s got feel. He’s got a touch. He can play facing up as well to about 15 feet comfortability and effectively. He can block some shots. He rebounds the ball more with length than strength. I think he’s just starting to scratch the surface with how good he will be. “

Name: Johnuel Fland

Class ranking: No. 18 in 2024 ESPN Top-100

Position: Point guard

Size: 6-3, 165 pounds

High school: White Plains, NY

Summary: Fland is one of the highest-rated recruits in the class 2024 that UConn has sent an offer. The Huskies offered him in November 2021. “Fland shows the ability to not only score in bunches, but to get others involved and make the right play,” Biancardi said. “He gets to his spot to create and does a nice job rebounding down to start the fast break.”

Name: Tahaad Pettiford

Class ranking: No. 30 in 2024 ESPN Top-100

Position: Point guard

Size: 5-11, 160 pounds

High school: Hudson Catholic in Jersey City, NJ

Hometown: Jersey City

Summary: Pettiford got offered by UConn in December 2021. He creates instant offense and can shoot off the dribble. The guard praised the Huskies to 247sports’ Dushawn London: “That visit was really good. I got to meet the players, watch and learn RJ Cole’s game and just see if I were to go there how I would play. “

Name: Ian Jackson

Class ranking: No. 3 in 2024 ESPN Top-100

Position: Shooting guard

Size: 6-4, 170 pounds

High school: Cardinal Hayes in New York

Hometown: New York

Summary: Jackson is the highest-rated recruit UConn has sent an offer to. He does everything on the court, but is a devastating scorer. “Jackson could be special,” said Biancardi. “He combines athleticism with scoring skill. He has instincts of when to score and not to score. He’s not a selfish scorer. He plays within the flow of his team He can beat you in a lot of ways: the 3, the mid-range, the drive, the finish. He’s got elite athleticism. Not only is he a tremendous scoring guard, but he handles it pretty well. He’s a competitive kid and plays hard. “

Shreyas Laddha can be reached at sladdha@courant.com or shre98 on Twitter.

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