Facey Picks "Dream" Team

Kentan Facey's biographical sketch says he is from Glen Head, N.Y., and he plays high school basketball at Long Island Lutheran High School. Those are the facts since 2010. But Facey is from Jamaica, a fact he was extremely proud of Thursday after watching television coverage of sprinter Usain Bolt leading a Jamaican sweep of the 200 meters at the 2012 Olympics.

"Actually, I've met him personally in Jamaica," said Facey, who became the first member of Connecticut's 2013 recruiting class late Wednesday night. "We're from the same place basically. He's a cool dude."

For all the basketball fans out there, Facey is quick to point out that Samardo Samuels is from Trelawny, the same parish in northwest Jamaica as Bolt and Facey. UConn fans are familiar with Samuels from his time at Louisville. The power forward/center now plays in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Facey is a 6-foot-9 forward and, like Samuels, was discovered at a camp by New Yorker Stephen Johnston, founder of the Jamaica Basketball Development organization. Facey left home at age 17, moved to Long Island. He was a key player as a junior as Long Island Lutheran repeated as state Federation Class A champions.

But it was just last month, during the July evaluation period, that Facey became one of the most coveted players on the AAU circuit. After impressive performances at some of major camps, UConn was on a long list of schools that offered him a scholarship.

Facey says there were offers from UCLA, Memphis, Providence, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rhode Island, St. John's, Florida, Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Iowa State. There were reports that John Calipari was about to extend an invitation to play for the defending national champions at Kentucky. Facey was supposed to visit St. John's on Friday and Rutgers next Tuesday.

But the trip to Storrs on Wednesday was all Facey needed. Perhaps he has met the World's Fastest Human, but he committed to UConn without a face-to-face meeting with Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, who was home recuperating from surgery after he fractured his hip in a bicycle accident on Saturday.

"I spoke to him on the phone," Facey said.

On the car ride to UConn, Facey was concerned about the future of Calhoun, 70, who has two years left on his contract but hasn't made it official he will return for the 2012-13 season. And he was unclear if the Huskies, banned from the 2013 postseason because of poor APR scores, faced further sanctions from the NCAA for academic deficiencies.

When he got the answers he wanted from assistant coach Kevin Ollie, the rest of the coaching staff and UConn president Susan Herbst, Facey was ready to commit – after a conversation with his AAU coach Karriem Memminger on the ride home.

"Since I got here [to the U.S.] that's the only school I really took time out to watch whenever they played," Facey said in a telephone interview. "The only thing that was keeping me from committing [earlier] was the fact they were going through a period where they were being penalized for academic mishaps that took place before.

"But during the visit I got to speak to the coaching staff, some academic advisors and the president. She kind of cleared the air where that's concerned. She insured us that she was doing the hands-on job last year when she had just come in. That was her focus but she has a staff that she has hired to take care of that. There should be more of an emphasis on [academics] now."

Facey has maintained a GPA between 3.0 and 3.5 but he is also wants the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. With those issues addressed, he decided to commit on the trip home.

"I had no intention of committing [Wednesday]," he said with a laugh. "But everything went well. I liked the campus and the coaching staff did a really good job. I always liked the school, so why not?"

Facey said UConn became his "dream team" as he watched Kemba Walker and the Huskies march through the Big East tournament and then win the NCAA national championship in 2011. He was motivated when Calhoun and Ollie were watching his games at camp this summer.

During his visit, no promises were made regarding Calhoun's future or Ollie's status as a possible coach-in-waiting. So far, athletic director Warde Manuel has said that will not happen with Ollie or anyone else. Manuel is at the 2012 Olympics in London and could not meet with Facey.

"What they emphasized is that [Calhoun] is going to be there with or without the whistle," Facey said. "Regardless of whether he retires or not, he's going to be there helping us along the way. Even though he won't be head coach, he's still going to be there passing along his experience."

And like most UConn recruits, Facey is very fond of Ollie.

"He's a really down-to-earth guy," Facey said. "He's not going to tell you what you want to hear. He's going to keep it real with you. That's a trait in a coach that I would like."

Scout.com ranks Facey as the No. 14 center in the class of 2013. Asked to evaluate his own game, Facey said he got better this summer by playing a more aggressive style.

"I think I learned a lot about the game," he said. "I can apply myself more in games. My strength is my athleticism. I can run the court faster than most bigs. I keep up with a lot of guards. I rebound pretty well and I block a lot of shots. That's what I bring to the table right now

"I'm developing my offensive game. That's what I'm working on now."

New York City point guard Terrence Samuel, who plays for Memminger's AAU team also, is expected to visit Storrs Friday. Could they end up together in UConn uniforms?

"We're making individual decisions," Facey said. "We're pretty close. He knows my game to a certain extent, so [if Samuel picks UConn] that would certainly help."


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