Husky Hoopla: UConn men’s basketball projected starting 5

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PG- R.J. Cole, Redshirt Junior 

After sitting out last season as a transfer from Howard, Cole slots in nicely as the starting point guard. Head coach Dan Hurley has raved about Cole’s ability to make his teammates better, which should really help the development of potential All-American James Bouknight. Despite not playing last season, Cole is very familiar with the team after a year of practicing with them. He recorded over 21 points and six assists per game in both his seasons at Howard, so he can definitely play. Those scoring numbers may not translate exactly to Big East competition, but as long as he can be a distributor for his teammates and occasionally go get a bucket, he will be a perfect point guard for this team. 

Bouknight is probably the most exciting part of the Huskies lineup. The sophomore was just named to the Naismith Trophy watch list, an award given to the best player in college basketball. Bouknight was the only UConn player to make the list and one of just five from the Big East conference. Shooting 46% from the field and 35% from three, he averaged 13 points per game last season, second to only Christian Vital. Now the presumed primary scoring option and expected to enter the NBA draft following this season, all eyes are on Bouknight, and expectations are sky-high. 

SG- James Bouknight, Sophomore 

SF- Tyrese Martin, Junior 

The only newcomer to the program in our starting lineup, Martin gets this spot because of his experience. He played two seasons at Rhode Island, starting a majority of his games there. He averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds as a sophomore and will provide a lot of production at both ends of the floor for the Huskies. At 6-foot-6, he’s a prototypical wing who can defend multiple positions and score from anywhere on the court. While Bouknight will get the most attention from opposing teams this season, they would be wise not to forget about Martin. 

Polley is the sharpshooter of the team, who also happens to be 6-foot-9. As a junior, he set career highs with 9.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. However, his season was cut short due to an ACL tear in January, just days after one of the best games of his career, a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double against Tulane. After a long recovery throughout the offseason, Polley should be ready to go to start the season and resume his role as a 3-point specialist. Hurley has called Polley one of the most important players on the team because of his versatility on defense and his ability to stretch the floor. If opposing teams ever leave Polley open, they will pay. 

PF- Tyler Polley, Senior 

C- Isaiah Whaley, Senior 

After enjoying a breakout season last year, Whaley is presumed to be the primary big man for the Huskies this season in his senior year. Whaley really came on in the second part of the season, stepping up after the injury to Akok Akok. Even though he only averaged about 19 minutes per game on the season, that number jumped to 33 a game over the last seven games. The Huskies went 6-1 in that span, and their only loss was a double-overtime thriller at Temple. He emerged as a great rebounder and shot-blocker, but he also showed an ability to be a consistent scorer from inside as well — something we hadn’t seen yet to that point in his career. With a revamped stable of big men behind him, Whaley is expected to be at the front of the pack. 

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