UConn notes: Clingan slim and fit as he prepares for freshman season
Storrs – Donovan Clingan has undergone a transformation in the last few months.
The highly-regarded freshman center out of Bristol Central High School arrived at UConn for summer basketball workouts physically fit and slimmed down.
Simply put, the 7-foot-2 Clingan looks great.
Coach Dan Hurley credited director of sports performance Gavin Roberts for helping Clingan get in terrific shape as well as giving the freshman a pat on the back for his work ethic.
“Coach Gavin does a really good job with our guys, “ Hurley said after Thursday’s workout at the Werth Center. “To Donovan’s credit, he did a lot before he got here. It’s not that he got here and lost 30-35 pounds and we can take credit for it. He got himself in shape. He showed a lot of self-awareness and situational awareness of what he was coming into. He knows how we practice.”
Clingan, a two-time Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year, is reaping the benefits of his transformation on the basketball court.
“I definitely feel different moving up and down the floor, just a little more explosive and quicker off my feet,” Clingan said. “I feel like I’m quicker than I was. I’m down to 265; that’s my goal. My goal is just to get stronger now.”
While Clingan regularly attended UConn home games last year and dropped by practice, nothing could prepare him for going up against Big East Player of the Year candidate Adama Sanogo during summer workouts.
“Day One, going up against Adama, was probably eye-opening just because I’m playing against one of the best bigs in the country,” Clingan said. “Just realizing I’m here and all the opportunities I’ve had so far and everything I’ve done, it’s crazy. It’s a dream come true.
“It’s everything that I expected but definitely a little more. It’s definitely a lot of work.”
Hurley expects Clingan to be an impact player as a freshman. Clingan’s presence will allow Sanago to cut back on his game-day workload. Sanogo wore down toward the end of last season.
“He’s going to be a great, great player,” Hurley said. “He’s going to help this team a lot this year. He’s going to have a heck of an impact. We’re blessed to have two big guys like those two guys. He came here in great shape.
“He’s got a long way to go, but he’s going to have an impact on this team.”
Alleyne happy to be a Husky
Nahiem Alleyne didn’t know what to expect after entering his name in the transfer portal.
He was thrilled when UConn reached out to him.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared because I didn’t know what schools would be out there for me and am I the right fit,” Alleyne said. “When UConn called, I was surprised a little bit. I was like, man, UConn, such a historical place, legendary place, national championships. It’s just surreal.”
Alleyne, a 6-4 guard who played for Virginia Tech and graduated in three seasons, is fitting right in with his new team.
“Everything has been good so far,” Alleyne said. “I feel like ever since day one, I’ve been getting better every single day. They’ve been helping me to be more active and more talkative as a person, because I am an older guy now so I’ve got to be more vocal.”
Alleyne will be counted on to bring some scoring punch and help make up for the departure of point guard R.J. Cole, the team’s leading scorer last season. He averaged 9.6 points last season for the Hokies, shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range.
“They brought me here to shoot the ball but I can do more than that,” Alleyne said.
Karaban’s goal: Be an X factor
It’s been a year and half since Karaban, a 6-8 redshirt freshman forward from Southborough, Mass., last played in a basketball game.
Karaban enrolled at UConn for the second semester last school year and sat out, only working out with the Huskies. Prior to arriving in Storrs, he attended IMG Academy in Florida for a semester and previously spent two years at New Hampton (N.H.) School.
He can’t wait for the season opener on Nov. 7 against Stonehill.
“I’m just super excited to get back out there,” Karaban said. “It was super difficult not being able to play last year. I’m competitive, so when we were down in close games, I wanted to get out there and help the team win.”
By arriving at UConn early, he believes he got better by practicing against players like Isaiah Whaley, and also learned what it takes to play for a demanding Hurley. He’s lost 20 pounds since January, gained muscle and especially improved defensively.
His goal is to become an X factor kind of player. He considers his strengths to be shooting and his versatility.
“I know we’ve got superstars on the team – Jordan (Hawkins), Tristen (Newton), Adama (Sanogo), Andre (Jackson) – so if I can go out there and make a couple threes, change the game, score a little and be that dude that lifts the team to a win, I think I’ll be good.”
Hurley says Karaban is competing for a starting spot.
“He’s such a good shooter, a smart player, a skilled player and he wants to be really good, really bad and he’s going to be great,” Hurley said. “His work ethic is off the charts.”
Life is not a beach for Calcaterra
Joey Calcaterra is a long way from his home in the San Diego area, but the transition to the East Coast has been smooth.
“It’s a big move, but for me it’s been pretty easy,” said Calcaterra, a 6-3 guard and graduate transfer. “I’m just a kid who easily adapts to his surroundings. I made this decision strictly off basketball. And there’s no better place to be other than here in Storrs, Connecticut, playing for UConn.”
Calcaterra played for four years at the University of San Diego, averaging 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in his final season.
Summer workouts leave little time to head to the beach. That’s fine with Calcaterra.
“I’m not really a beach guy, surprisingly,” he said. “I like to stay inside and just do my own thing.”
News and notes
Hurley on sophomore shooting guard Jordan Hawkins: “Jordan looks really, really great right now. …. He’s primed for a big, big year.” … UConn recently released its non-conference schedule. “I like it,” Hurley said. “Where we’re at as a program in year five, in those buy games we felt like we could challenge ourselves a little bit more in those. We’re going to end up playing five high major types of games out of that non-conference, both neutral and obviously the home game.”