Dan Hurley: UConn men’s basketball has recruited ‘exactly’ what staff was looking for so far

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley, left, talks to baseball coach Jim Penders at the Coaches Road Show stop in Southington Monday night.

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley, left, talks to baseball coach Jim Penders at the Coaches Road Show stop in Southington Monday night.

David Borges / Hearst Connecticut Media

SOUTHINGTON — UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley believes the program has added just the right pieces through the transfer portal this spring.

“From a positional standpoint, and a skillset they possess,” Hurley said on Monday before a UConn Coaches’ Road Show event at Kinsmen Brewing, “it was really exactly what I was thinking the morning after we lost (in the first round of the NCAA tournament).”

There’s Tristen Newton, a 6-foot-5 point guard from East Carolina who can score on anyone; Nahiem Alleyne, a 3-point shooter from Virginia Tech; and most recently, Hassan Diarra, a do-it-all guard whose brother, Mamadou Diarra, has been a student/graduate assistant the past three seasons.

And, with three more open scholarships, there’s more to come.

“We feel like we want to be at 12 (scholarships),” Hurley said. “We want the flexibility of not going beyond 12, especially with the state of the game.”

Men’s programs are allotted 13 scholarships. But with players so ready and able to transfer after one season of sparse playing time (as UConn learned this past season), filling up every scholarship might not make sense.

“We’d love to continue to add a player with some upside on the perimeter that could potentially help us” Hurley added. “With 11 or 12, I think one of those positions, too, has to be somebody that will improve the program daily as we get ready for a big year ... an older guy and a younger guy.”

In fact, Hurley noted that the Huskies may only opt to fill one more roster spot. That also frees up a spot or two in case any 2023 recruits decide to enroll early.

Diarra, a 6-2 guard, committed to the Huskies last week after spending the past two seasons at Texas A&M. The New York City native played three years at nearby Putnam Science Academy.

“He’s a guard who’s a creator, who can get in the paint and make plays,” Hurley noted. “He has a toughness and a fearlessness about him, in big moments. Obviously, we’ve seen him a lot. When kids go to the portal, you put on as much film as you can watch. But also, the amount of times we’ve watched him play at Putnam and AAU, he’s kind of exactly what the roster needed.”

UConn still has work to do, Hurley noted, “to have depth and competition and more talent in the program, so that we can be better than we were last year.”

But so far, so good.

“It came together the way we envisioned it,” the coach added, “just bringing in good players that are going to help us on the perimeter, in particular, with the transfer portal guys.”

What can Brown do for Iona?

It was announced over the weekend that Taliek Brown, the former star point guard who’s been the Huskies’ director of player development the past four seasons, has accepted a job as one of Rick Pitino’s assistants at Iona.

“Taliek’s had opportunities, and this is the first one that I think made a lot of sense for him,” Hurley said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to get experience on the court and to get involved in recruiting. And obviously, (Pitino) is a Hall of Fame coach.”

On the Road

About 250 fans paid to mix and mingle with Hurley and fellow UConn coaches Geno Auriemma (women’s basketball), Jim Mora (football), Jim Penders (baseball) and Laura Valentino (softball) at Monday’s event event.

“It’s great to be around the fans,” Hurley said. “Sports isn’t sports without the fans, especially seeing UConn fans are so passionate. They love their Huskies.”

The Road Show makes its second stop on Tuesday at Two Roads Brewing in Stratford from 6-8 p.m. Hurley, Auriemma and Mora will be joined by hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh.