UConn men’s basketball first-year head coach Dan Hurley has been hot on the recruiting trail. After solidifying his back court of the future, he has turned his attention to the frontcourt, with top-30 recruit Akok Akok already offered and now visiting for First Night.
Akok (pronounced Uh-cook) is a 6-foot-9 small forward from Putnam Science Academy, which is where current Husky Mamadou Diarra graduated from. Akok’s high school coach Tom Espinosa had nothing, but positives to say about his small forward.
“His two strengths are very unique,” Espinosa said. “He hits threes and he blocks shots. You know, not too many players have that as their two biggest strengths, but that is what he brings to the table.”
Two teams that are hot on Akok’s trail are former Big East rivals—UConn and Syracuse. Espinosa said that Syracuse started recruiting him first, but ever since Hurley arrived at UConn, the Huskies have recruited him.
Jeff Jacobs, who is a sports columnist for Connecticut Hearst Media, said that Akok would make a major impact for UConn.
“If UConn can pry him from the recruiting grips of Gerry McNamara (assistant coach of Syracuse),” Jacobs said in an email. “And get him to Storrs, I expect no shortage of reminders that Tyler Olander has won more national titles than Jim Boeheim.”
As for Akok’s athletic ability, Jacobs said he has a rare combination of skills.
“Akok is an explosive talent,” Jacobs said. “Guys who can hit the three, swat away shots and dunk— tickle everyone’s basketball fancy. Plus he is one of those young guys on an upward arc.”
Tom Moore, who was an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun from 1994-2007, is now an assistant under Hurley. Moore was responsible for recruiting Rudy Gay, AJ Price and Hilton Armstrong and is now leading the recruiting process for Akok.
“Moore has been great and so has Hurley,” Espinosa said. “They have been in touch with Akok and coming out to workouts…they want to know that he is coachable and obviously they like his talent.”
As far as Akok’s work ethic, Espinosa said the forward is constantly working to get better.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.