With UConn set to join the Big East ahead of the 2020-21 season and a talented roster for years to come, there were already plenty of reasons for optimism around the men’s basketball program. On Wednesday, head coach Dan Hurley added another.
Andre Jackson, a 6-foot-6, 4-star recruit from Albany, announced his commitment on Wednesday in front of a chapel packed with press and classmates. He chose UConn over Syracuse, Maryland, Iowa and UCLA. Syracuse had appeared to be the likely destination until Jackson’s official visit to Storrs on Sept. 21, which was ultimately the deciding factor.
“UConn has been consistent from the start, they expressed interest in me a lot and I really liked my official visit I just took recently,” Jackson told media after the announcement on Wednesday. “Coach Hurley and his energy on and off the court really brings a lot out of me and I also had a great time with the players and got to build some relationships. It was a good weekend and it pretty much sold me on that day.”
It’s the first Class of 2020 commitment for Hurley, currently leaving him with one more available scholarship for next year. With an ultra-athletic wing secured, Hurley will likely now pursue some frontcourt talent.
Jackson, considered a top-75 player in his class, is a versatile guard/forward combo who can contribute across the board due to his electric athleticism. For a player of his size, he boasts superb ball-handling abilities and, most importantly in Hurley’s run-and-gun system, is best when out in transition. His jump shot will need to develop, but he already has the intangibles to make an immediate impact.
Jackson has reportedly been at the center of Hurley’s radar since he took the UConn job. After an unofficial visit last March on the night of Ray Allen’s jersey retirement, Jackson made an official visit two weeks ago. He then canceled his upcoming visits to other schools, made another unofficial visit last week and came to a final decision about a week ago.
“The staff at UConn has done a great job of building a relationship, which is so important,” Jackson’s high school coach Brian Fruscio said. “Comfort is very important to him. The people that are gonna be around him, driving him to be the player and person he needs to be, was important to him.”
Due to NCAA regulations, Hurley is not allowed to comment on Jackson’s commitment until Jackson signs an official letter of intent next month. When asked about his new coach’s reaction to the news, Jackson said Hurley was understandably “pumped.”
The Hurley effect seems firmly underway, and it seems the move to the Big East has already boosted recruiting.
“[The American] is good, but I think the Big East really helped UConn with their pushing for me,” Jackson said on Wednesday. “I think I fit into the Big East well, it should be a good ride."
UConn’s roster already looks like a top-25 team for the 2020-21 season. First, we’ll see what this year’s team, led by senior Christian Vital, can accomplish in the program’s farewell season in The American.
Andrew Morrison is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @asmor24.