Plenty of familiar faces at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am Friday night, including a 2011 NBA Draft pick.
No, Kemba Walker didn’t make a surprise entrance as he apparently did in Doc Hurley’s last game. But Ater Majok, the second round pick of the L.A. Lakers, was on hand at Sport and Medical Science Academy in Hartford.
Less than one year ago Majok left UConn under odd circumstances after playing less than one full season. He didn’t shed any light on why he left Friday.
“Whatever happened, happened,” Majok said. “I never wanted to leave UConn. I loved UConn. I came back today and played and everything.
“Things happen. When things happen you can’t really control, you have to deal with it the best way possible,” Majok said. “The best way to deal with it was for me to go overseas.”
Majok said he would have been eligible had he stayed in Storrs and that he didn’t leave because he felt his family needed money.
Majok says he holds no grudges toward people at UConn.
“No, never. I would never have hard feelings towards anybody,” Majok said. “I was on campus yesterday (Thursday). I spoke to coach (Jim) Calhoun, I spoke to coach (George) Blaney and everybody. There’s no hard feelings at all. At the end of the day I’m a Husky and I’m always going to be a Husky at heart.”
Majok played professionally in Turkey and Australia last year before being drafted with 58th overall pick.
“I’m a Laker now,” Majok said. “It’s a whole new beginning for me.”
The NBA lockout has thrown a little wrench into Majok’s plans, of course.
“I’m missing summer leagues, I’m missing training camps and stuff,” said Majok, who is living in the Washington area now. “It’s hard. But at the end of the day, I’m still working out. Hopefully I fit in well.”
Majok said he was glad the Huskies won the national title without him but…
“It was tough. There were some games, as happy as I was, it was tough sitting and watching. I’m a basketball player,” Majok said. “But I was happy they won it. I was proud of that team.”
Majok said his game has changed a bit since leaving UConn.
“I started shooting it a little more. And I’m more of a defensive, perimeter stopper. I defined my game a little more,” Majok said. “I still have my post game. I’m still a power forward, but I have the ability to play the three.”
As for the mystery that surrounds his exit, Majok said he wasn’t prepared to go into detail.
“One day,” Majok said. “One day, maybe.”
— Jeremy Lamb, fresh off his strong effort with the U.S.’s U19 team in the World Championships in Latvia, was in near top form. The rising UConn sophomore put on a little show in the first half Friday, creating the highlight of the night with a facial of Tobin Carberry via the one-handed dunk.
“I got hot. I hit a couple shots,” Lamb said of his U19 experience, where he averaged 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
“I definitely got better,” Lamb added. “Creating my own shot, my handle.”
As for how close he was to leaving UConn after one season, Lamb expanded on what he’s said before:
“I was mad close,” Lamb said. “I was thinking I was going to do it.”
“We really talked about it,” Lamb added. “But we decided I should come back. I felt I needed another year.”