In a recent article published on Wednesday by CBS Sports, the sports media giant tackled the question of the top 101 players in College Basketball. From Villanova star Collin Gillespie to Gonzaga forward Drew Timmie, the list featured many of the best players in college basketball as teams begin to start their season. With that being said, many teams received great representation on these lists, except the University of Connecticut.
You heard me correctly. The UConn Huskies did not receive a single player on this list. This snub marks another sign of disrespect for a team that is coming off a 2021 NCAA tournament berth and a No. 24 rank by the AP College Basketball Poll. The question is, why does this team receive such major disrespect by media giants like CBS Sports?
An obvious candidate for this list would be UConn center Adama Sanogo, the sophomore big man named to the Big East Rookie First Team who is a major part of the team’s impressive frontcourt. With an increased focus on staying out of foul trouble and extended playing time in games, Sanogois bound to see results especially with his impressive play in practices and scrimmages.
Another candidate could be R.J. Cole, the flashy senior guard who is expected to see a jump in points with the absence of 2021 NBA lottery pick James Bouknight. Coleaveraged 12.2 points last season, and with no Bouknight in the rotation to add to steadily improving shooting splits, his numbers are bound to shoot up. His play alone last year should warrant increased praise from the college basketball world.
Even senior forward Tyrese Martin could have a significant impact on this season and should certainly be in consideration for a late spot on someone to look out for in college basketball. Martin, who averaged double-digits in two straight seasons, was also a top-tier rebounder in the Big East. While he may lose some of that productivity on the rebounding end due to the return of big man Akok Akok and the addition of recruit Samson Johnson, he’s a big part of this Huskies lineup and should not be overlooked.
Teams like Villanova received three players on the list, including Jermaine Samuels, who accompanied Martin and Cole on the Preseason Big East Second Team. While Samuels is a great player, there’s no reason why players like Cole and Martin should not receive their respect for how much they contribute to a great team in a tough Big East Conference.
Now, I may seem biased as a UConn basketball reporter, but the general disrespect that these players receive is utterly horrendous. While the Huskies receive better praise as a team by coaches and media, individual players do not receive the same respect — other than by UConn coaches like head coach Dan Hurley.
Look at the 2021-22 Big East Preseason teams. Notice how not a single Huskies player graced the first team, and how Sanogo was left off every team. I can go on and on and critique certain players’ positions on this list, but UConn’s play on the court speaks for itself. The team is out for an apparent vengeance to play their style of basketball and prove the opinions of the media wrong.
Now, I will say from a stat sheet perspective, the numbers don’t jump out. The team is much more impressive on the court than statistics can show, and with a wide array of players coming back and inevitable improvement, players deserve much more credit than they get from media and fans. The team is also coming off a majority of injuries to players like Akok, who will play a major part in the team’s defensive play throughout the season. Players like Akok have a real shot at impressing the college basketball world on the defensive end.
This Huskies’ lineup is excellent and can contend for success. But, the players themselves are not given their proper respect for how much they contribute to the team, and it’s time to put an end to that.