Freshman Ryan Boatright has yet to dress for either of the Huskies' two exhibition games, let alone step on the floor. The NCAA is in the middle of a review of Boatright's eligibility, something having to do with his time playing AAU before he arrived in Storrs.
While it doesn't appear that Boatright will miss extended action, his role on this team is an important one: he's point guard Shabazz Napier's primary backup. We saw just how important a quality No. 2 is at the position; without Napier, the Huskies don't win the national championship because for as great at Kemba Walker was, he was running on fumes during the last quarter of the regular season.
Napier acknowledged Sunday that he has to pace himself with Boatright sidelined.
"I can't be as aggressive as I usually am. I have to make shots and stay out of foul trouble. Not having Boatright as of right now is kind of tough for me."
Coach Jim Calhoun is well aware of what Boatright means, too.
"We're throwing an awful lot at a walk-on," he said, speaking of Brendan Allen, Napier's new No. 2 during Boatright's absence.
Allen, a freshman from Windsor, Connecticut, who spent his post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy in Maine, didn't even receiver Division II scholarship offers. But after a call from Huskies assistant George Blaney, Allen ended up in Storrs hoping to make the team as a walk-on. Now he's second on the depth chart.
"Let's take Friday night," said Calhoun (via the Hartford Courant), referring to UConn's season opener against Columbia at Gampel Pavilion. "If Shabazz picks up his second foul, [Allen] is going to play the rest of the first half. He has moved ahead of Jeremy [Lamb], because we're trying to get Jeremy off the ball, so Brendan right now is our backup point guard."
It's been a confluence of events that has brought Allen to this moment. Boatright's NCAA issues, sophomore Niels Giffey's injury provided an opportunity, and Calhoun's decision to keep Lamb at shooting guard all mean that Allen can expect to play.
"I always wanted to come here," Allen said, according to the Courant. "I didn't have too many looks. I was willing to take a scholarship from any school that would offer me one. I thank God for this opportunity, and I appreciate all the players, the way they've accepted me and supported me."
In 16 minutes of action Sunday, Allen scored three points against C.W. Post. After the game, Calhoun was impressed.
"I tell you one thing, he's got a little stomach to him....With more work, he's going to help us, particularly given the situation right now....I told Jeremy 'I didn't like the way you played (the first exhibition game) because you didn't score enough points. So let's get you off the ball.' So Brendan right now is our backup point guard until things change."
When things will change still remains unclear.