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    Tuesday, November 29, 2022

    Clinics help UConn men’s basketball team bond

    UConn’s Andre Jackson works with kids at the Bleeding Blue fo Good ProCamp on Saturday at the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    UConn’s Donovan Clingan, left, and Tristen Newton talk with campers at the Bleeding Blue fo Good ProCamp on Saturday at the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    Bridgeport — Andre Jackson lingered inside Cardinal Shehan Center after the Bleeding Blue for Good ProCamp ended on Saturday, posing for pictures with kids and signing autographs.

    His UConn basketball teammates had already left the court.

    Jackson was clearly enjoying himself.

    He was once in the campers’ shoes, so he understands the importance of events like Saturday’s clinic with elementary school kids.

    “I see the different emotions on different kids’ faces,” Jackson said. “I remember being a kid, I would walk into a situation and I’d be sad because I’m dealing with something else that people might not know about. It’s good to be around kids and brighten their day any way you can.

    “These kids are going through a lot that we might not know about. It’s good to just be there as inspiration. When you’re young, you have all these dreams and goals but it’s hard to really feel like you can make it out of the situation that you’re in.”

    Jackson remembers the impact an Albany Academy basketball camp had on him as a young kid.

    He admired his camp coaches and ended up going to high school there.

    Now Jackson hopes he can be an inspiration for others.

    “One of these kids might end up growing up and want to go to UConn because maybe they saw somebody that inspired them at 10 or 11 years old,” Jackson said.

    The clinic also served an added purpose for the Huskies.

    It provided another team bonding experience.

    With eight new players on the roster, including Alex Karaban who only practiced with the team last season while sitting out as a redshirt, the Huskies are trying to spend as much time together as possible to help build team chemistry.

    “On and off the court, we’re always doing something together, all of us,” freshman Donovan Clingan said. “Bringing all these transfers in and the young guys, me a freshman, we have a very strong connection and everyone gets along very well, and that’s important.”

    The regular season opener – Nov. 7 against Stonehill College – will be here in a hurry. First Night is set for Friday, Oct. 14.

    After being limited to just four hours per week, UConn will be allowed to expand its time on the court starting with Tuesday’s first official practice of the 2022-23 season.

    The Huskies are eager to kick it into high gear.

    “I can’t wait,” Jackson said. “First practice of the year, it’s going to be definitely hectic and a lot of energy. We’ve been going pretty hard the whole summer and this fall, so I’m not really nervous about it. I’m just excited.

    “We’ve got a good group of guys. It’s going to be good once we get more hours in the week. Four hours a week is tough to implement everything and try to get everything to be as sharp as possible. I think once practice starts, the mood is definitely going to switch and everything is going to be a lot more focused.”

    Clingan, the former Bristol Center standout, has high hopes for the upcoming season.

    “It’s going to be a good year,” Clingan said. “We have a really talented group that works hard. I’m looking forward to it.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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