During halftime of Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Tulsa, former standout player Caron Butler became the 24th member of the Huskies of Honor, which recognizes UConn players for their accomplishments.
Butler was an All-American and Big East Player of the Year during his two seasons at UConn. He led the Huskies to the Elite 8 in the 2001-02 season.
Before Butler, Shabazz Napier was inducted after the team won the 2014 national championship. With that being said, who will be the next men’s basketball player inducted into the Huskies of Honor? The Daily Campus Sports staff debates.
Matt Barresi, Campus Correspondent
I would have to say Ben Gordon. He was a star on the 2004 National Championship squad. He led them in scoring with 18.5 points per game and shot lights out from three with a .43 percent conversion rate. He stuck around longer than Caron Butler did, and along with Emeka Okafor was part of the top duo in college hoops that season.
He went third overall in the 2004 NBA draft, behind Okafor, who is already a Husky of Honor. He never really lived up to the billing of his pick, but he lasted over a decade in the NBA, which is no small feat. Always a scorer, he averaged 14.9 points per game on his career and had a couple seasons with the Chicago Bulls where he was over 20.
He’s got a Sixth Man of the Year award to his name and was a respected scorer throughout the league during his NBA tenure. He definitely deserves to have his name up there and the only reason he doesn’t is because they probably haven’t been able to get him in town yet.
Peter Harasyko, Staff Writer
Although Hasheem Thabeet’s NBA career never took off, his accomplishments at UConn merit a place in UConn’s Huskies of Honor. Thabeet was a defensive monster in the college game, blocking 417 shots in his three seasons in Storrs.
He was named to the All-Big East Rookie team his freshman year. His sophomore year, he was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year while also making second team all conference. Nationally, he was named NABC Defensive Player of the Year. His junior and final year, the accolades only increased. He was once again named Big East Defensive Player of the Year, shared the conference player of the year honors with Pitt’s DeJuan Blair and was a second-team All-American.
Thabeet was also named NABC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year, becoming the first player to do so since Emeka Okafor did it in 2003 and 2004.
Though he never won a national championship, he helped lead the Huskies back to the Final Four in 2009. He is also a member of the 1000-point club, and is one of just 11 players in UConn’s history to record a triple-double. Thabeet is one of the most unique players UConn has ever seen, and he deserves to be recognized alongside the rest of the Husky greats in Gampel Pavilion.
Tyler Keating, Staff Writer
If the next two players inducted into the Huskies of Honor aren’t Ben Gordon and Hasheem Thabeet, something has gone wrong. However, it’s always fun to speculate about other possible inductees, so why not count the rings and go with German guard/forward Niels Giffey?
It would never happen, I know. But Giffey did make meaningful statistical contributions to two of the four UConn national championships. He only averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds as a freshman in 2011, but he did put up four points and six rebounds in the ugly championship game win over Butler. By 2014, Giffey had become a crucial part of the starting lineup, and he averaged 10.5 points in the Final Four as Shabazz Napier powered the Huskies to another title.
It’s a huge reach by any stretch of the imagination, but hey, only three Division I men’s basketball players have ever won national championships as both freshmen and seniors. Those three would be Napier, Giffey and Tyler Olander, who all have some really big rings. If that’s a factor, Giffey has a chance.
Elan-Paolo DeCarlo, Staff Writer
Kevin Ollie is the obvious answer. He’s a national championship winning head coach, was an assistant on the 2011 championship team, spent four years here as a player and was in the NBA for over a decade. That KO isn’t already in the Huskies of Honor is a surprise.
He wasn’t the best player during his time with the Huskies, that was his teammate Ray Allen. He was never an All-Star in the NBA, but he played with guys like Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
Ollie was the consummate Husky. As a player, he was a stalwart defender, great leader and dispensed exceptional influence as a teammate. As a coach, he’s proven to be a dynamite recruiter and inspirational figure.
KO took over for a legend in Jim Calhoun and he guided a team to the national championship in his first appearance in the NCAA tournament. It’s time he got his due at Gampel.