New coach Hurley lands first UConn commitments
Dan Hurley’s first two commitments at UConn are players with whom he’s familiar.
Brendan Adams, a 6foot-3 guard from Baltimore, committed to the Huskies during his official visit to campus on Sunday. Adams, a Class of 2018 recruit, had committed to play for Hurley at Rhode Island last October. However, he re-opened his recruitment after Hurley left URI for the UConn job last month.
“It took some time,” he said of his decision to decommit. “Early on, I wanted to stay. I was sure I was gonna stay. I knew I had a relationship with Coach (David) Cox, so I was tempted to stay. But, as the process went on, I just got to thinking, ‘What made me commit to URI in the first place?’ And it was the full package. I felt like Coach Hurley would make me become a better player and a better man.”
Also on Sunday, Tarin Smith, a grad transfer from Duquesne, pledged to UConn. Smith, a 6-2 guard, averaged 12.4 points and 3.2 assists in 28.5 minutes per game last season for the Dukes. He’s faced Hurley three times in his college career, twice with Duquesne (which plays in the Atlantic 10, like URI) and once at Nebraska, averaging 6.7 points in those contests.
“I’m really excited,” Smith said by phone on Sunday evening. “It’s just a great fit for me, my relationship with the coaching staff from Coach Hurley and Coach (Kenya) Hunter. And the playing style really fits me.”
Smith also played for
Hurley’s father, Bob, Sr., at St. Anthony’s High in New Jersey. He began his career at Nebraska, where new UConn assistant Hunter was an assistant for Smith’s freshman season.
“He was my guy for that one year at Nebraska,” Smith said of Hunter.
Adams, a consensus three-star recruit, is the younger brother of former St. Bonaventure guard Jaylen Adams — not to be confused with current UConn junior Jalen Adams. Whether or not Brendan Adams teams with Jalen Adams this season remains to be seen, as the latter hasn’t fully committed to remaining at UConn — though that seems somewhat likely.
Either way, it’s bound to cause some confusion.
“One of the (UConn) coaches called me ‘Jaylen,’” Adams noted. “We laughed about that.”
Cox, who recently succeeded Hurley as URI’s head coach, was the leader in Adams’ recruitment to URI. However, Adams told the Providence Journal last fall that he had a good connection with both Hurley and Adams.
“It wasn’t me saying I’m not going to Rhode Island, it was me saying I need to take a step back and see what else comes,” he said. “This was a very tough decision.”
Xavier was among the other schools seriously interested in Adams, but one visit to UConn sold him.
“The history there is crazy,” he said. “Coach Hurley is trying to build the culture back.”
While his brother was one of the best guards in the country last season at St. Bonny’s, Adams’ parents were pretty good athletes, too. His mother, Yalonda, was a 1,000-point scorer at Delaware’s Wesley College. His father, Darryl, played college football at Maryland.
Smith, who transferred to Duquesne from Nebraska after his freshman season, played all 32 games for the Dukes last season and was named the A-10’s Sixth Man of the Year. He led the team with 140 free throw attempts and was second in assists and third in steals (31).
“Coach Hurley puts his guards in position to make plays,” Smith said. “He really defends and gets after it. I think it’s gonna improve my game on both sides of the ball, and give me a bigger stage to show my talents.”
UConn was the only school Smith visited, though he had been contacted by Oklahoma, Nevada, Seton Hall and Rutgers.
“I found everything I was looking for at this school,” he said.
He shot 41 percent from the floor last season and 33 percent from 3-point range, but is probably better known for his defensive prowess.
“I think I’m a good defensive player,” he said, “with the ability to be a great defensive player if I step up my defensive game.”
He added that Hurley told him to “come in, work hard, be a leader for the team, help the younger guys along and bring a change of culture.”
Tarin Smith, right, a graduate transfer who has played at both Duquesne and Nebraska, has committed to play for the Huskies next season.
Tarin Smith, right, will take his talents to UConn next season.