Donovan Clingan, UConn Huskies, Big East basketball

The UConn Huskies look to become the first program since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to repeat as NCAA Tournament champions.

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
Can the UConn Huskies repeat as National Champions? Sure they can! It might be a much different-looking roster than last season’s squad, but the Huskies still have a team primed to do damage in the Big East.
Everything centers around Donovan Clingan. The 7-2, 280-pound sophomore had a promising freshman season that could lead to a much bigger sophomore campaign. Clingan is no longer behind Adama Sanogo on the depth chart. This is his team and he will command defenses to guard him inside. The question is, how many teams have someone who can match up with Clingan’s size?
Aside from Clingan, the UConn Huskies return point guard Tristen Newton, forward Alex Karaban, and guard Hassan Diarra. They will look to instill the champion identity on the newcomers.
The most intriguing newcomer might be Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer. Coming to the Big East from the Big Ten shouldn’t be an issue, and Spencer is one of many Huskies players who can drill threes. With the loss of Jordan Hawkins, Spencer can step up right away and fill what UConn lost in the scoring department.
Dan Hurley also brought in a tremendous freshman class, led by 5-star Stephon Castle. Castle should start, and will be in a good place to learn from a backcourt of two fifth-year seniors. 4-stars Jaylin Stewart and Solomon Ball will be vital off a UConn bench that lacks experience.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Dan Hurley (14th season, 6th at UConn)

2022-23 record: 31-8 (13-7)

2023 postseason finish: Won National Championship

Notable departures: Adama Sanogo (NBA), Jordan Hawkins (NBA), Andre Jackson (NBA), Joey Calcaterra (Graduated), Nahiem Alleyne (Transferred to St. John’s)

Notable non-conference games: vs. Indiana (Nov. 19, at MSG), vs. Louisville OR Texas (Nov. 20, at MSG), at Kansas (Dec. 1), vs. North Carolina (Dec. 5, at MSG), at Gonzaga (Dec. 15, in Seattle)

Projected Rotation

PG: Tristen Newton (6-5, 195, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 10.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 36.6 3P%, 37.4 FG%

SG: Cam Spencer (6-4, 205, Gr.-Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.0 SPG, 43.4 3P% (Rutgers)

SF: Stephon Castle (6-6, 215, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 10 rated recruit

PF: Alex Karaban (6-8, 220, Rs.-So.)

2022-23 stats: 9.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 40.2 3P%

C: Donovan Clingan (7-2, 280, So.)

2022-23 stats: 6.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.8 BPG, 65.5 FG%

6: Hassan Diarra (6-2, 190, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 2.1 PPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 RPG, 30.1 FG%

7: Jaylin Stewart (6-7, 205, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 66 rated recruit

8: Solomon Ball (6-3, 185, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 45 rated recruit

9: Samson Johnson (6-10, 225, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 0.9 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.1 APG, 12 games played

10: Youssouf Singare (6-10, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 143 rated recruit

11: Jayden Ross (6-7, 195, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 81 rated recruit

UConn Huskies MVP: Donovan Clingan

“Cling Kong” as they call him, will not blow you away with outstanding post moves and is still working on developing a shot. But the nickname fits well because, in the paint, there are few players – arguably none in the Big East – who have the physicality to slow down Clingan’s presence.

While Clingan’s freshman stats won’t blow you away, he only played 13.1 MPG. His per-40 numbers? 21.1 PPG, 17.1 RPG, and 5.5 BPG. As a starter and anchor of this UConn Huskies team, Clingan’s minutes should double and then some, making for one of the biggest statistical leaps in the country.

Clingan missed the last few weeks with a foot injury, so that is something to monitor. But at full health, the chance for Clingan to be dominant is very high.

UConn Huskies make-or-break player: Hassan Diarra

The only bench player with any sort of valuable experience, Hassan Diarra needs to be a leader in more than one way this year.

For one, the bench needs a go-to guy to look to. Diarra needs to step up and be ready to help a freshman-heavy bench adjust to Big East basketball.

More than that, Diarra must also take on more of a scoring role. As the season goes on, Stewart and Ball may surpass Diarra on the depth chart, but at the start, he can set the tone for expectations and help turn a thin bench into an asset for coach Hurley

Key analytic: 3P%

3P% has been a statistic of focus for many teams in our CBBRank countdown, and the UConn Huskies may fit the bill better than any other team out there.

While Clingan’s size is what teams look to most, the Huskies are a deadly team from three if you don’t prepare correctly. Last season alone, Spencer and Karaban both connected on over 40% of their three-point shots. Newton was just under 37%. Even though the Huskies lost Jordan Hawkins and Joey Calcaterra, they have three deadeye shooters from long distance.

If a few of the freshmen can also join in on the three-point barrage, the Huskies may have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Clingan + three-point snipers is must-see basketball.

UConn Huskies 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 1st in the Big East

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament Champions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.