Recruiting can overcome a lot -- poor coaching, tough schedules, less-than-ideal conference situations. And while UConn is quite happy with second-year coach Kevin Ollie, he has to field a team that a) maintains its national presence, and b) competes in the newly formed -- and unproven -- American Athletic Conference. It's why coaches spend so much time on the road during the offseason, trying to convince the country's best high school players why their program makes the most sense.
On Wednesday, according to the Hartford Courant, the Huskies will host one such prospect: Abdul-Malik Abu, a 6-8, 230-pound power forward who plays his high school basketball at Kimball Union Academy (NH). ESPN ranks Abu 44th among all rising seniors.
Abu has cut his list to four schools. In addition to UConn, there's Providence, Florida and NC State. Interestingly, two years ago, Rodney Purvis had narrowed his choices down to NC State and UConn before ultimately choosing the Wolfpack. After one season in Raleigh, Purvis transferred to -- you guessed it -- UConn. According to the Fayetteville Observer, Abu plans to visit NC State later this month.
"What they did with C.J. Leslie, how he's such a versatile player, can do many things, it's what I like," Abu said last month.
This doesn't mean NC State is the frontrunner, however. Abu's AAU teammate, guard Jared Terrell, has cut his list to Cincy, Oklahoma St., Rhode Island and Providence. Speculation is that Abu and Terrell would love to play together in college but if that's going to happen there's only one option: Providence.
The question, of course, is just how much they want to play together at the next level. The Huskies already have Purvis and Daniel Hamilton in the class of 2014, and Abu would only make that group better. In Ollie's favor: Purvis had only good things to say about the program, both before he decided to attend NC State and then, a year later, when he transferred to Storrs.
"(Ollie) just told me, the ball is going to be in my hands," Purvis said in May. "And he's got nothing to lie about. It has been proven with (Ryan) Boatright and Shabazz (Napier) and guys like that. I'm going to be a great teammate. I'm going to be a great cheerleader this year. I'm going to try my best to do everything right, so when it's my time I'll be ready."