Purvis Could Be Breakout Player in 2014


Much of the talk this short offseason has been about a) whether coach Kevin Ollie will leave for the NBA (the magic 8-ball remains undecided), b) whether Ryan Boatright will leave for the NBA (he's staying), or c) how the Huskies will overcome losing Shabazz Napier leadership and DeAndre Daniels' big-play ability (both are NBA-bound).

But if Ollie stays put -- and it appears he will -- UConn will be fine in 2014-15. For starters, Boatright and sophomore Terence Samuel will solidify the backcourt, while freshman 6-7 forward Daniel Hamilton could be an immediate . The incoming class also includes guard Sam Cassell Jr., who will add depth, as well as NC State transfer Rodney Purvis, who will be expected to be an impact player from the moment he steps on the court.

He played his freshman season in the ACC where he showed glimpses of big-time potential, and now he'll bring that to the national champion Huskies. So how good can Purvis be? ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan identifies him as a "top newcomer to watch" next season:

"...He might end up being the most important player on the list. With a post-national title Shabazz Napier graduating this spring, a suddenly starry Ryan Boatright can slide over to the point guard spot, allowing plenty of room for Purvis -- whom UConn coach Kevin Ollie called a "Ferrari sitting in the garage" at the Final Four in April -- to get big minutes and lots of touches in his first season in Storrs, Connecticut. How that configuration works may be the difference between another scrappy national title contender and an understandable step back in Ollie's third year."

Back in September, before the season started (and Purvis was forced to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules), he conceded that he had plenty to work on.

"I kinda feel like I’m starting back over, getting in shape and things like that. Just getting used to everything," Purvis said at the time. "I was never used to waking up at 8 a.m. and having to lift, then getting to class and stuff like that. I was used to lifting after I was done with classes, things like that. No excuses, I’ve just got to get used to everything.”

“I’ve got to challenge myself. In practice and things like that, even the little things –- I’m in the gym just about every night, I’ll grab a manager and get him to rebound –- I’m just focused on being a good teammate, getting guys better, and when it’s my time to play, I’ll definitely be better.”

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