What UConn coach Dan Hurley is looking for when scouting Peach Jam


NORTH AUGUSTA, SC — Dan Hurley sat in the corner of Court 6 inside the Riverview Park Activity Center on Friday morning, sitting next to assistant coach Luke Murray and sipping hot coffee despite outside temperatures of 95 degrees.

Hurley and Murray watched a 15U Peach Jam fight between Drive Nation, coached by former NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal, and New Heights Lightning. Another day, another round of games for Hurley and his team as summer recruiting continued.

“I love basketball,” he said after Drive Nation’s 64-51 win. “I even like to watch a bad game. I don’t like to travel, but I love basketball.

Hurley had just flown out the day before an Under Armor event in Chicago, where he and his assistant Tom Moore watched prized 2023 engagement Stephon Castle. Murray and associate head coach Kimani Young have been at the Peach Jam since coaches were cleared to attend Wednesday. Moore flies to Los Angeles to attend an Adidas event.

“You really have to evaluate, especially when it comes to good games, good events,” Hurley told Hearst Connecticut Media. “You can make a really good assessment of players when you see them multiple times. The more players you see, the safer it is to sign them.

What is Hurley looking for when he watches a rookie play? Certainly, any player can have a bad day, or even a bad week.

“You look at the traits,” said Hurley, who is entering his fifth season as UConn head coach. “You want to make sure there’s a high enough floor. But I think you’re also looking for a high ceiling, traits that you think you can build on, players that you think aren’t necessarily going to be finished products. Their abilities and traits, combined with their ability to grow…you’re looking for a guy who you feel you can really help you improve with.

UConn has its eyes on 2023 commitments Solomon Ball and Jayden Ross, as well as 2023 prospects Jaylin Stewart, Coen Carr and Youssouf Singare and 2024 targets Tahaad Pettiford, Boogie Fland and Yves Missi, and others . The immediate target is the frontcourt, where the Huskies believe they will lose Adama Sanogo to the pros after this season. A great defensive mind who could increase Donovan Clingan 7-2, and/or a talented winger/striker seem to be the goals.

In fact, the Huskies are still planning to fill one of their last two open scholarships for this season. It is likely that this player will be a development type player – either a 2022 graduate or a 2023 reclassification, a transfer or maybe even an international player.

Aside from the latest vacancy, Hurley is happy with how things have gone so far in Summer 2 practices on campus.

“The guys look good, I really like the look of the team – the skill, the versatility, the depth,” he said.

However, there is one thing he expects more from this team.

“We just have to answer the question in terms of team tenacity,” added Hurley. “I don’t know if that’s the first thing that comes out of this group. But, many more skills and a deeper and more versatile team.

And a team that will likely deepen at least one player over the next month.

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