Some leftover news and notes after speaking to UConn coach Kevin Ollie at The Miracle League of Connecticut Celebrity Golf Classic:
A “TALLER” AMIDA: Sophomore center Amida Brimah had late-April surgery to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder, but rehabbing from the surgery is not the only thing he is working on this summer.
“He’s doing good,” Ollie said. “He’s growing an afro, so I guess that’s good. The shoulder looks good; he’s out of his harness.”
Even though the 7-foot Brimah, who was an AAC All-Rookie selection after averaging 4.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and a team-high 92 blocks, is limited in his activities now, his coach expects him to be ready next season.
“Of course he can’t do anything physically right now, but we got the best physical trainer James Doran – you know I’ve said that many times,” Ollie said. “He’s going to have Amida right at the right time. He’s going to get back on the floor and he’s going to dominate. I think he’s going to have a great sophomore season. I really believe that.”
NEXT STEPS: Guard Shabazz Napier and forward DeAndre Daniels, who left early, are expected to be taken in the NBA draft later this month, but Ollie said another Husky could be a valuable commodity at the next level. Niels Giffey doesn’t project to go in any mock drafts, but he shot 48.3 percent from 3-point range and averaged 6.0 rebounds a game in the NCAA Tournament.
“He had a couple workouts already with some NBA teams,” Ollie said of Giffey, “I definitely think that’s a goal of his (to play in the NBA) and I think he can accomplish that.”
“If he shoots the ball the way he did this year, he can fit in any kind of offense – triangle, square, circle,” Ollie said. Whatever you need. He shot the ball particularly well.”
The sharp shooting was not the only thing Ollie liked about the 6-7 German.
“Niels does so many other things that people probably don’t see, that’s under the water line,” Ollie said. “He became a great rebounder for us down the stretch and he was just a rock. You always want role players who can come in and do those certain things for you when you know what you are going to get each and every day.”
Ollie on Napier in the NBA:
“(I told him) just be yourself. Work hard. Be willing to do something that another man is not willing to do every day, whatever that might be. And just get better at something. You got to be willing to sacrifice and you got to be able to do something that somebody is not willing to do. That’s what I wanted to tell him. When you open your mouth that’s an interview, you got to understand people are always watching you. You have to hold yourself as work ethic first, professionalism second and then humility third. I think the humility is the first out of all of them and I think that’s what he has. He went through a great interview process in the Chicago combines and I think he had his first workout the other day with Phoenix. I’m going to be talking to him after that and whatever he needs from me, he knows me here. The only thing he needs is prayers and good wishes; Bazz is going to handle everything else. He’s an unbelievable basketball player, but most importantly he’s a great leader. I think NBA teams are going to see that.”
On Daniels in the NBA:
“He has some tremendous talents. I want him to always put his imprint on the game and be more consistent, but he’s 6-9, can shoot and he helped us win a national championship. He got better each and every season, shot remarkably from the 3-point line and then he can also be a mismatch nightmare. I can manipulate the defense with him. He can pick and pop, I can put him on the low post and he has a lot, a lot of attributes he can bring to a team. I think he’ll be a great fit for anyone who gets him.”
NBA FINALS PREDICTION: Ollie might be a big fan of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, but that doesn’t mean he’s picking them to win the NBA Finals over former UConn star Ray Allen and the Miami Heat.
“I love Pop and I love what the Spurs identity is,” he said. “They have some great players. I went down to one of their mini camps like two years ago and was able to coach some of their free agents, so I know what kind of organization they have, but my ties are with my UConn brother right now. “
POPULAR ATTRACTION: After winning a national title, the AAC will be looking to showcase its top team by sending UConn to all three new stops in the league – Tulsa, Tulane and East Carolina – next season.
“That’s what happens (when you win),” Ollie said. “But when you come down to tournament time, and you know we play on Sunday now, you might have to turn around and go to Spokane, Washington or something like that. We have to be ready for everything. We take it as a challenge and we’re going to go out there and give our best game. We have to make sure we take care of our student-athletes the best way possible and make sure they get the right foods, the right sleeps and when take those trips have them in the right frame of mind that they can go out there and perform at the best of their abilities.”
NOTES: The Huskies are scheduled to travel to the White House next Monday, with a late-afternoon visit with the President expected to take place. … Ollie said he will be playing in the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am on June 18 at TPC River Highlands.