Akok Akok com­mits to Huskies

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By David Borges david.borges @hearst­medi­act.com

The long and wind­ing road of Akok Akok’s re­cruit­ment is over. He’s go­ing to UConn.

And he should be there pretty soon.

Akok, a 6-foot-9 post­grad from Put­nam Sci­ence Academy, com­mit­ted to the Huskies on Satur­day af­ter­noon via his Twit­ter ac­count.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate all the schools that re­cruited me, it’s been a plea­sure. That said ..... I am (100) per­cent com­mit­ted to Coach Hur­ley, the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut and @UCon­nMBB,” Akok posted on Twit­ter.

Akok plans to en­roll at UConn for the sec­ond se­mes­ter and join the bas­ket­ball team as a walk-on, but not play. He will not be on schol­ar­ship, but will likely qual­ify for a hefty fi­nan­cial aid pack­age. He’ll have the chance to prac­tice and work out with the team un­der Hur­ley’s tute­lage, sim­i­lar to what an­other PSA prod­uct, Hami­dou Diallo, did at Ken­tucky two sea­sons ago. Diallo, of course, was on schol­ar­ship. He con­sid­ered en­ter­ing the NBA draft af­ter that half-season at Ken­tucky but wound up re­turn­ing and play­ing for the Wild­cats the fol­low­ing season be­fore be­ing selected in the 2018 draft.

Akok, a five-star prospect, has talked about en­ter­ing the 2019 draft, but that would seem un­likely — though NBA scouts will no doubt at­tend UConn prac­tices this win­ter to watch him (as well as Jalen Adams, and pos­si­bly oth­ers).

“He will be at UConn for the 2019-20 season,” promised Vin Pa­s­tore, who coached Akok on the Mass Ri­vals AAU team and spoke with him on Satur­day.

UConn has been re­cruit­ing Akok for a while now, be­gin­ning with Kevin Ol­lie’s staff. Af­ter Ol­lie was fired on March 10, Hur­ley’s staff, spear­headed by as­sis­tant Tom Moore, con­tin­ued re­cruit­ing Akok heav­ily. He took an of­fi­cial visit on Nov. 8, tak­ing in the Huskies’ season-open­ing win over More­head State, and was re­cently at the Huskies’ win over Cor­nell on Nov. 20 in Hartford.

Akok took his SAT on Satur­day. He will have to ap­ply to the school and, as­sum­ing he gets in, wouldn’t be able to start prac­tic­ing with the team un­til af­ter fall se­mes­ter ex­ams end on Dec. 16 — as­sum­ing things move that quickly.

One thing is cer­tain: When­ever Akok Akok en­rolls at UConn, and when he be­gins play­ing next season, the Huskies have landed a good one.

“He moves, runs and catches at the high­est level,” said Pa­s­tore. “Be­cause of his great hands, he has NBA-trans­lat­able shoot­ing skills and can make shots from deep. Be­cause of his im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing and ex­tremely quick jump and sec­ond jump, he pro­tects the rim at the high­est level. The bot­tom line is that Akok trans­lates to the NBA.”

Akok had been down to UConn, Ge­orge­town, Pitts­burgh, Syra­cuse and Prov­i­dence in re­cent weeks. Ul­ti­mately, it came down to UConn and Ge­orge­town, and he chose the Huskies — even though Ge­orge­town had an open schol­ar­ship.

“He had built a good re­la­tion­ship with Tom Moore and then with Dan Hur­ley over the last few months,” said Pa­s­tore, who also coached Adams with Mass Ri­vals. “He likes them and trusts them. Akok wants to be in the gym get­ting bet­ter and be ready for the 2019-20 season.”

Akok, who came to Amer­ica as a 1-year-old and set­tled in New Hamp­shire, has been liv­ing in Put­nam for the past 2 1/2 years while at­tend­ing PSA un­til abruptly leav­ing the school a lit­tle over a week ago.

“He can be re­served and quiet around those he doesn’t know,” said Pa­s­tore, “but is a lot of fun with peo­ple he is com­fort­able with. He is a sen­si­tive young man and has had a long-time dream of play­ing in the NBA so he can help his mom, dad and sib­lings have bet­ter lives.”

Akok is close with cur­rent UConn sopho­more Ma­madou Diarra. In fact, dur­ing the Nov. 20 game against Cor­nell, Akok mis­tak­enly thought he could sit next to Diarra at the end of the bench.

Turns out, he will likely have that chance a lot sooner than orig­i­nally ex­pected.

Put­nam Sci­ence Academy / Con­trib­uted Photo

Five-star re­cruit Akok Akok an­nounced on Twit­ter on Satur­day that he has com­mit­ted to UConn.

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