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Futures Of Calhoun, Top Recruit Andre Drummond Linked

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Jim Calhoun was once asked why he didn’t land Connecticut native Ryan Gomes. The answer isn’t fit to publish but became a YouTube sensation. Simply put, the Connecticut coach blasted those who dared question his recruiting because, well, he has gotten some pretty good results over the years.

But no Connecticut high school player has been more hyped than Andre Drummond, 17, a potential NBA lottery pick down the line.

The top overall prospect in the class of 2012, according to many recruiting evaluations including ESPN, Drummond is from Middletown, CT, about 45 minutes from UConn’s campus, and goes to nearby St. Thomas More prep school.

Drummond’s ESPN.com recruiting profile puts it succinctly, saying that the 6-foot-10, 275-pound center has a chance to be “one of the elite big men of the last decade.”

That’s certainly someone the defending national champions don’t want to let escape from under their noses.

However, Joe Gaetano, Drummond’s AAU coach with the Connecticut Basketball Club, doesn’t think the Huskies have much of an advantage.

“Andre lives in Connecticut,” Gaetano told Zags Blog last year. “He goes to prep school in Connecticut. And UConn is in Connecticut. That’s his only relationship.

“Right now, they’re a  great program. So is Duke, so is North Carolina, so is Texas, so is Kentucky. They’re all great programs.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, they are the only program in that elite group that isn’t certain who will be its coach next season or for Drummond’s freshman year in 2012-13. Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun has yet to decide if he will return for his 27th season in Storrs.

But if there’s any player that could cause Calhoun to put off retirement, it’s Drummond, whose future looks as bright as any of UConn’s 11 players who played in the NBA last season.

The consensus from his profiles on ESPN.com and Rivals is pretty spectacular. Drummond has a unique blend of size and athletic ability that most big men do not possess.

He catches and dunks everything around the rim but still can use a hook shoot and be a more traditional post player. Drummond, who averaged 15.0 points and 11.0 rebounds as a junior, also can do damage as a defensive intimidator.

You get the point; Drummond is the type of recruit who can turn a program into an instant contender.

He’s being chased down by teams who already are annual Final Four favorites.

Drummond has made unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina while on Tobacco Road for a high school tournament and, of course, has been to UConn on several occasions.

Louisville, Georgetown and Pittsburgh also are in the mix, and it’s clear that Drummond is going to let all the offers pour in before he makes a decision.

“He seems to be most intrigued by the Big East schools, UConn, West Virginia and Villanova,” his high school coach, Jere Quinn, said to Zags Blog. “Pitt called this week. I can’t say anybody’s working harder than anybody. They’re all giving it a pretty good effort.”

And never count out Kentucky head coach John Calipari from the top recruit in the nation. After all, this is the same guy that snagged Connecticut super recruit Marcus Camby right from Calhoun’s back yard while Coach Cal was at UMass.

The Huskies chased another hyped center, Andrew Bynum, in 2005 but lost him to the NBA. Now, with rules preventing Drummond from jumping directly to the league, Drummond’s choice might be affected by Calhoun’s.

And Connecticut has turned out plenty of good big men in recent years. Emeka Okafor went second overall in the 2004 NBA draft, Hilton Armstrong was a lottery pick in 2006, Hasheem Thabeet was selected second overall in 2009 and current center Alex Oriakhi looks bound for the league as well.

Gomes, for his part, turned into an All-American at Providence and currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time of his recruitment, he wasn’t even the best player in his league while playing high school basketball in Waterbury, CT.

Calhoun knew that. He didn’t see Gomes’ success coming.

But with Drummond, how can you not?

 
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