As uncertainty swirls around Jim Calhoun’s status as head coach, the UConn staff is actively preparing for the future.
Earlier in the week, UConn offered junior power forward Marcus Lee, a product of Deer Valley High in Antioch, Calif. His high school teammate — point guard Kendall Smith — could be next.
“I’ve been playing with Marcus since fourth grade and I can’t see us splitting up,” Smith said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
Despite a junior campaign that saw Smith average 16.6 points, 9.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, he’s yet to pick up an offer. A host of Pac-12 and middle-tier majors recruited Smith during the high school season, but he said the “high, high majors got in contact” since the start of AAU, more specifically Jamfest in Pittsburgh a few weekends ago. Smith, a 6-foot-3 pass-first point guard, listed UConn, USC and Washington as schools that have come on strong.
“When I talked to (Kevin Ollie), when he found out about me, he said the recruiting process was going to really start picking up,” Smith said.
There’s already a UConn tie in place: Smith’s AAU coach is Marcus Williams’ father. If you recall, Williams was a sensational playmaker — quite possibly the best passer in program history — during his days in Storrs.
Aside from Williams, Smith had high praise for another former Husky point guard.
“My AAU coach tells me great things about how (Ollie) likes to coach and, I wouldn’t say be a friend, but you can talk to him if you needed to,” Smith said. “…Everything I hear about Kevin Ollie is great. I can’t wait to see him become head coach. Hopefully, I’ll be playing with them.”
Of course, it’s no guarantee that Ollie takes over. Calhoun has not made an announcement and sources close to the situation are unsure of what the future holds.