Ramar Smith a Key Commit for Calhoun

One thing about the Connecticut's Men's Basketball staff – when they see what they want, they go after it. And it was clear that Detroit, Michigan's 6-3 stud Ramar Smith was one of the staff's priorities this summer. Head Coach Jim Calhoun was clearly visible at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis and also followed Smith's every move in Las Vegas.

Calhoun had to like what he saw. Ramar has been the talk of the town since his freshman year in Detroit and seems to thrive on playing against the very best competition. The spotlight is something he looks for, not shies away from.


With UConn looking to sign a ton of players for the 2006 campaign Calhoun pursued Smith intensely for several reasons. The Huskies will be inexperienced at the guard position in '06 especially if Marcus Williams leaves early for the NBA (by the way all of this is of course provided Williams and Price stay on the Husky roster). That would leave A.J. Price, Craig Austrie, and Robert Garrison as UConn's other options at the guard position. Though Smith will be a freshman he's viewed as a shooting guard who would not be in awe of playing on the road in the rough and tough Big East. Smith is one tough customer and fit the description of what Calhoun was in search of perfectly. Smith's gusto can be compared to that of former UConn guard Khalid El-Amin, who always seemed to raise his level of play against better competition.


Right now Ramar is an athletic shooting guard who seems to get to the rim whenever he wants. It's not uncommon to see Ramar penetrate, take the hit, hang and finish the play. Smith is a tremendous scorer though his shooting ability might be one of his weak spots. He lacks consistency with the jumper and his shot is a bit flat at times, but he does have a good stroke. Smith will attend South Kent Prep School in Connecticut this year and improving his shot will be a focal point. Really he just needs to add some arc and soon the shots hitting the front rim will be swishing through the net.


It will be exciting to see his athletic ability on display in the open floor where he will be a terrific finisher for UConn's fast-paced offense. Smith's scoring prowess is one of the reasons he's been so highly touted since his freshman campaign but expect Ramar to play some point for the Huskies. He's a sneaky good passer with an excellent handle and the rumor is he'll see some time as the primary ball-handler in Storrs. 


Other Recruiting Notes


-- Just how impressive is Calhoun's recruiting work ethic? Check out this story.


During the last two days of the July recruiting period the UConn coach traveled 9,000 miles to see 6-3 guard Jerome Dyson and 6-11 Spencer Hawes.


Here's a copy of Calhoun's itinerary:

Took red-eye from Los Angeles on Friday and arrived in Philadelphia at 6am on Saturday where he spent the day watching Dyson. Calhoun then hopped on the 6pm flight from Philly to Seattle to see Spencer Hawes. Calhoun arrived in Seattle by 9p Saturday night and watched Spencer workout Sunday afternoon. The UConn coach left the gym by 1230p and then took a 3pm flight back to Newark. After getting in at midnight, he drove back and got in by 3-330am. These are the types of things Calhoun is willing to do for top recruits. That had to make an impact on both of those prospects.  


The Macklin Story


- I've gotten some email about UConn's interest in 6-9 Vernon Macklin (Chatham, VA). Macklin is a highly coveted prospect who stands pretty firm on his list of schools which include; Georgetown, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Ohio State – in that order. Here's my opinion. The only way to get "in" the Macklin race would've been to send Calhoun to Orlando. With 10-15 UConn prospects in Las Vegas, it would've been a tough call for the staff to make to "possibly" be in the mix. I won't say it's a completely dead issue but the Huskies are on the outside looking in with this one.


Names to Watch


- Again, all this is pending A.J. and Marcus remaining on the team but the Huskies will look to give one more scholarship to a guard. Dyson is the likely top target here. Derrick Jasper (Andover, NH) and combo guard Matt Bouldin (Highlands Ranch, CO) are names to watch here. 


- In all likelihood the Huskies will fill one more scholarship from the class of 2006 on a wing player. 6-6 Quincy Pondexter from Fresno, CA (who will be visiting the Storrs campus) is likely the primary target here. 6-7 Raymar Morgan (Canton, OH) and 6-5 Lazar Hayward (Fitchburg, MA) are the other targets for the Huskies at this position. Though Hayward is a bit smaller, he fits a Rashad Anderson type of wing who can shoot it.


- The key recruiting area for Connecticut will be up front. At the 4-position the names include 6-11 Spencer Hawes (Seattle, WA), 6-8 Alex Stepheson (North Hollywood, CA), 6-8 Taj Gibson (Tarzana, CA), 6-8 Deon Thompson (Torrance, CA), 6-9 Perry Stevenson (Lafayette, LA), and finally, 6-8 Bryan Davis (Grand Prairie, TX). 6-9 Lance Thomas (Newark, NJ), and 6-9 Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, AL) can play both the 4 and the 3 positions and are still very much a part of the UConn recruiting picture.


- Connecticut has gotten extremely comfortable leading the nation in blocked shots the last 4 seasons so finding a 5-man is crucial. With Andrew Bynum never setting foot on campus and Josh Boone likely gone after this season finding a quality center ranks high on UConn's priority list. There are some top prospects available at other positions but expect the Huskies to really focus on guys like7-0 Jonathan Mandeldove (Chatham, VA), and 6-10 Hamady Ndiaye who's from Senegal but plays at a prep school in Lake Suzy, FL. Even though Ndiaye is a bit raw and is a project expect UConn to go after both of these players because of their wish to fill the center position with size instead of an undersized 4-man.



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