UConn's coaching staff excited for return of live recruiting: 'It's hard to evaluate off livestreams'

UConn coach Dan Hurley and his staff are grateful that live recruiting has returned this month. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

UConn coach Dan Hurley and his staff are grateful that live recruiting has returned this month. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

Robert Franklin / Associated Press

When the NCAA’s live recruiting period officially kicked off on Tuesday — allowing college coaches to see recruits play in person for the first time in well over a year — you might picture UConn’s staff jumping into action.

Dan Hurley darting around to local gyms with the exuberance of a pit bull finally let off the chain. Kimani Young speeding down I-95 to his familiar haunts in New York and New Jersey. Tom Moore and Luke Murray furiously scouring scouting reports and scheduling visits, like they did some 15 years ago at Quinnipiac.

But while UConn’s recruiting-centric staff has been bouncing off the walls to get out and see players, they’ll have to wait a little longer. There’s nowhere for coaches to go to watch players just yet, but those days are coming soon.

On the final two weekends of June, there will be live recruiting evaluations of prep players in numerous states around the country. All of the events are tournaments or showcases involving high school teams. In Connecticut, for instance, the NEPSAC Men’s Basketball Coaches Association is hosting an NCAA-sanctioned showcase in Avon on June 25-27.

College coaches will flock to events like that and others throughout the country over those final two June weekends. Expect UConn to have a presence at the Connecticut event, as well as at showcases in Massachusetts, at DeMatha High in Maryland and St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia.

UConn will likely have multiple coaches at each event, but given the somewhat restrictive timeframes of each event (Friday at noon until Sunday at 6 p.m.), aren’t likely to travel out of the northeast — unless a major Class of 2022 target like Ty Rodgers ends up playing in his home state of Michigan, or the staff decides to take a flyer on a different national recruit.

In July, there will be various AAU events where coaches can also see players, including the prestigious Peach Jam in South Carolina July 13-25. There will also be an NBA Players Association camp, and potentially another live period that runs into early August.

Whenever or wherever, Hurley & Co. will be happy to be out evaluating talent in person again, after having to do so via livestreams for the past 15 months.

“It’s hard to make evaluations off livestreams,” Moore noted. “It’s better than nothing, but you don’t see the secret sauce of what makes a guy tick. It’s hard to pick apart the nuances of a guy’s game, how competitive they are, off livestreams.”

And those are the type of observations the staff, and Hurley in particular, thrives on.

Another area where the staff thrives is campus visits by recruits. Those started up again on Tuesday, as well, and UConn is expected to have several prospects on campus over the next few weeks, including a talented pair of Class of 2023 recruits — 6-foot-7 small forward Tyler Bol-Bown (unofficial, June 8), point guard Jayden Lemond (unofficial, June 10) — along with 2022 targets Rodgers (official, June 10-11), point guard Denver Anglin (unofficial, June 17) and 6-8 small forward Alex Karaban (either official or unofficial, June 21).

Donovan Clingan, the Class of 2022 7-footer from Bristol Central, will make an unofficial visit later this month, then take an official July 1-2.

The rules for visits are a little different this year. In the past, no visits were allowed in the month of July. Now, officials (though no unofficials) can be made during certain 4-5 day periods throughout the month. The first and last weeks of July are “quiet periods” where officials can be made.

Recruits get five officials visits as juniors and five more as seniors, so a lot of the juniors (Class of 2022) are jamming in as many officials as they can over the next couple of months.

For the past 15 months, the only “visits” recruits could make to campus were via Zoom/teams, etc. calls or phone calls. Coaches would often actually have to show a recruit the program’s facilities via FaceTime, etc.

UConn wound up doing fine in that period, attracting a national top-15, three-man recruiting class that is arriving on campus for the first time — ever — this week. But the staff truly thrives on getting players on campus to see how the program operates.

“We feel like we get a nice boost off officials and unofficials,” Moore noted. “We feel like we do well when they’re around us.”

TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS

Participants in the Big East-Big 12 Battle were officially announced on Wednesday. UConn will play at West Virginia on Dec. 8.

Other matchups are: Texas Tech at Providence (Dec. 1), Kansas at St. John’s (Dec. 2), Iowa State at Creighton (Dec. 4), Xavier at Oklahoma State (Dec. 5), Butler at Oklahoma (Dec. 7), Marquette at Kansas State (Dec. 8), Texas at Seton Hall (Dec. 9), Villanova at Baylor (Dec. 12), TCU at Georgetown (Dec. 18).

david.borges@hearstmediact.com