UConn in the Pros: Drummond bounced in first round; Vital wins G-League Chip 


George Springer 

Coming off a year where Toronto Blue Jays star George Springer couldn’t shake the injury bug, the outfielder has been decent so far. In 15 games, Springer has collected 15 hits, which is good for a .263 batting average, just six points below his career high. His three homers only have him on pace for 33 on the year, but it’s likely that the slugger will pick up the pace as he gets more comfortable. In the field, Springer has shined, recently making what many are calling the potential catch of the year, where he traveled many dozen feet before tumbling into the warning track and robbing Kevin Plawecki’s hit. His start to the season has been encouraging and hopefully he can stay healthy moving forward. 

Matt Barnes 

Barnes has been a bit less impressive so far this year, but it’s hard to really judge him, since he’s only pitched five innings. His first two games came without issue, as he pitched one inning in each and only took a combined 24 pitches to do so. Two days later, Barnes was lit up by Minnesota, who took him for two runs in an inning. Then, Toronto got a run on him in his next appearance. Alex Cora called upon Barnes with just one out to go to close the game and he delivered, recording a save on the Rays in just three pitches. Although he has a ways to go to get his ERA down to a respectable spot, he’s generally been doing what he’s needed to do for the Red Sox.  

Andre Drummond 

Brooklyn Nets center Andre Drummond recently had the misfortune of being on the wrong end of a sweep, as the Boston Celtics eliminated the UConn alum. The two time All-Star was relatively ineffective throughout the series. Drummond scored eight points in the first game, five in the second, two in the third and none in the decider. He saw 15-24 minutes in the first three games, splitting time with Nic Claxton, but eventually was supplanted by Claxton, playing less than four minutes in game four. Even though Drummond is known as a top rebounder in the league, he also failed to dominate in that department, as he never collected more than four. Overall, Drummond was unfortunately a part of one of the more disappointing teams in NBA recent history and will have time to improve in the offseason. 

Christian Vital 

Christian Vital, who was the only significant men’s basketball Husky to not make an NCAA tournament in recent history, finally found tournament success. During the regular season, Vital was a solid piece, averaging 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. In his three game playoff run, the former UConn star posted an average of eight points and three rebounds. “[Vital] was the unsung hero of our team,” said playoff MVP Trevenin Queen. Particularly at the end of his UConn career, Vital demonstrated his ability to impact games and he finally has the hardware to show for it. NBA teams like to have winners on their squad, which Vital is. Although unlikely, perhaps the guard could get a few looks, perhaps from the Rockets, the NBA affiliate of his Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  

WNBA Rookies 

Of the three UConn Women’s Basketball rookies to enter the WNBA draft, all three were drafted. Christyn Williams, who was picked the highest, unfortunately suffered a terrible season-ending knee injury in practice and will be unable to show her skills to the world until next year. The other two, Olivia Nelson-Ododa’s Los Angeles Sparks and Evina Westbrook’s Seattle Storm battled this past weekend in the WNBA preseason, with the Storm coming out on top. Nelson-Ododa accumulated 15 points, 12 boards and five assists in 35 minutes, which was nearly twice as many as the next most on her team. Westbrook saw considerably less playing time, with just 15 minutes, and hit just one triple. Both will have the opportunity to prove why they should have a role on their respective teams ahead of opening day on May 6.  

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