Catching Up With the Sensational Six!

The University of Connecticut is off to one of their most impressive starts ever going 9-0 and showing no signs of slowing down as they get ready for Big East play. But with many key parts of this national championship caliber team moving on next fall, let's look ahead and see how UConn's six 2006 recruits are doing so far.

Coming into the season it looked like Jeff Adrien would be the sole returning post player, prompting UConn to restock both the 4 and 5. Seniors Ed Nelson and Hilton Armstrong will use up their eligibility after the season. Also, many assumed Josh Boone would follow in the footsteps of his past teammate, Emeka Okafor, graduating after just 3 years and jumping right to the NBA. Through the first 9 games Boone hasn't exactly come out of the gate firing on all cylinders, making his return next year a real possibility. When the season began Josh mentioned that if he were not a top 10 pick he would consider returning for his senior year. Big East play has yet to begin so there is plenty of hoops to be played and more than enough of time for Josh to hone his game before that decision needs to be made. So if Josh is not able to elevate his stock to the preseason projections, Jonathan Mandeldove, Boone's heir apparent, might have a very capable mentor when next fall comes around.

During the month of December Mandeldove and his Hargrave Military Academy teammates compiled an impressive 4-1 record, bumping their overall record to 10-2. During that stretch, Jon had some solid performances such as his 9 point and 7 rebound effort against Rise Academy in a 97-52 victory, and finishing the month tallying 9 blocked shots in the final two victories over Fork Union and IC Norcom. Mandeldove continues to excel on the defensive end of the floor, which will likely be his primary role as a freshman at UConn.

With the uncertainty of Boone's return next season, the staff continues to keep tabs on Hamady N'Diaye (6-10, 225, C) who paid UConn a visit during their brief California stopover to face Pepperdine before continuing on to Hawaii for the Maui Classic. Even if Josh decides to return for his senior season, the Huskies will likely have one more available scholarship to add depth to their front court.

Another big part of Connecticut's reloading plan is New York City power forward, Curtis Kelly. Kelly and his Rice teammates have played just one game this month, though will continue to do so without their starting point guard and Louisville recruit, Edgar Sosa who has been suspended for beginning of their season. Curtis managed to take home the sportsmanship award at the Big Apple Basketball Challenge, though his 12 point, 10 rebound, and 3 blocked shot effort was not enough propel Rice to victory in their disappointing 57-56 loss to the Robeson Eagles. Thanks to an old fashion 3 point play by Kelly, Rice stretched the lead late in the game to five points only to see Robeson come back in exciting fashion to steal the victory away from them. Kelly is a versatile 6-9 forward who can put the ball on the floor, though does most of his damage close to the basket. He and Jeff Adrien will likely battle it out for the majority of the minutes at the power forward spot next fall.

Playing time at the small forward position is yet another one that will be up for grabs next fall. Seniors, Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown who have been sharing time at both the 2 and 3 will run out of eligibility at season's end. Super sophomore, Rudy Gay, continues to dazzle the Husky faithful with some spectacular NBA highlight worthy dunks and will likely move on after this season, taking his aerial show to the next level. Filling in for the injured Brown, freshman Marcus Johnson had his first career start and made the most of it. His 20 point effort, including two 3 pointers against University of New Hampshire made quite a statement to 2006 wing hopefuls, Stanley Robinson and Ben Eaves, that they will have to go through him to earn minutes at the wing next season.

Next fall expectations will be sky high for what some consider the next great Husky wing, Stanley Robinson. This 6-9, athletic and powerful combo forward from Alabama is considered one of the elite big wings in the 2006 class. During the month of December, Robinson led his team to six victories while putting up some impressive numbers along the way. In their first game, Stanley paced Huffman High School to a 58-48 win over Ramsay with 16 point, 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. He followed that up two games later with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 20 point victory over Carver, 83 to 63.

Stanly had an impressive three game performance in the Birmingham City Schools boys basketball tournament. Robinson set the tone in the second round by throwing down a ferocious dunk after the opening tip on his way to leading Huffman with 19 points and to yet another victory. He then tallied his season high 25 points, of which 12 came from beyond the arc, propelling Huffman to the finals where he earned Tournament MVP leading his Viking teammates to the title.

Robinson continues to extend his game beyond the arc to go along with his dangerous inside game and hopes to contribute right away to UConn's high octane offense next fall.

If Robinson wasn't enough, UConn also added yet another athletic wing in Ben Eaves, from England. Ben continues to develop his wing skills while helping his Worcester Academy Hilltoppers even their record to 4-4. He led his teammates in scoring with 18 points in their first victory of the month and repeated the feat with 19 in their 10 point loss against Brewster Academy. Ben's biggest contribution of the month might be the two 3 pointers he hit in OT to help seal the victory over Blair Academy, 63-60. It appears that Ben is well on his way to adapting to the American brand of basketball.

With the surprising solid play by the two freshman guards, Craig Austrie and Rob Garrison who have filled in admirably for Sophomore Marcus Williams who has been sitting out the first semester for some off the court transgressions, competition for playing time at both backcourt positions will be fierce next season. Not only will the incoming freshman, Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins vie for the available 80 minutes, but sophomore A.J. Price who has yet to play a single college game hopes to finally show everyone why he was considered one of the top guards in the 2004 class.

Over the month of December, Jerome Dyson led his Proctor Academy Hornets to a 6-1 record. Dyson led all scorers with an impressive 33 point effort going 19-24 from the free-throw line against Bridgton Academy in their only loss of the month, 102 - 89. Dyson again led his team in scoring with 19 points in a 70-60 victory over Redemption Christian Academy, and consistently produced double digit points in all their other victories including 18 against the New Hampton School and 17 in their final victory of the month against Thayer Academy.

Connecticut's own Doug Wiggins led his East Hartford Hornets (2-0) to two consecutive victories this month. The 6-0 point guard scored 25 points in the opener against Bloomfield, hitting 8 shots and going 8 for 11 from the line, including a few tomahawk dunks and one beyond the ark. He followed that with a 20 point effort, again on 8 FGs leading his team to victory over Southington. He along with the other four guards will make up the deepest and arguably the most versatile backcourt UConn has ever had.


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