UConn Men Land Guards Brendan Adams, Tarin Smith; First Recruits For Dan Hurley

Brendan Adams (right) in action for Calvert Hall High in Baltimore, where he averaged 18 points per game.
Brendan Adams (right) in action for Calvert Hall High in Baltimore, where he averaged 18 points per game. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

UConn coach Dan Hurley has landed his first recruits, bolstering the Huskies' backcourt with graduate transfer Tarin Smith and freshman Brendan Adams.

Adams, who had committed to play for Hurley at Rhode Island, then was granted his release, committed again to play for Hurley at UConn. The 6-foot-4 Adams averaged 18 points, four rebounds and three assists for Calvert Hall High in Baltimore. He's a top 150 player, the brother of St. Bonaventure guard Jaylen Adams.


"I talked to my brother a lot through the process," Adams said Sunday evening, "and the main thing he told me was, go with what you feel; don't make the decision for somebody else."

Smith, 6-2, began his career at Nebraska, then transferred to Duquesne, sat a year, then played in all 64 games the past two seasons, averaging 28 minutes, 10.5 points and 3.2 assists. This past season, he was voted the Atlantic 10's sixth man of the year by conference coaches.


UConn's staff is familiar with Smith. New Huskies assistant Kenya Hunter was at Nebraska when Smith played there, and he faced Hurley's Rhode Island teams while at Nebraska and Duquesne.

"I was kind of familiar with Coach Hurley in the A-10, and playing for his father in high school," said Smith, who is from Ocean Township, N.J., and played at St. Anthony's in Jersey City for Bob Hurley Sr. "From there, it just kind of took off. We spoke a little while about the fit, what kind of fit it would be for them, and once I got on campus and took a visit, everything just came full circle. So I think it's a perfect fit."

After spending Saturday on campus with Hurley and the new coaching staff, Adams announced his choice via social media Sunday morning, and Smith a few hours later.

With the Huskies, the new guards will provide depth in the backcourt. UConn expects to have senior Jalen Adams, junior Christian Vital and Alterique Gilbert, who has missed most of the last two seasons with shoulder injuries, at guard next season. But the Huskies lost Antwoine Anderson, who played as a grad student, and James Akinjo, who de-committed when coach Kevin Ollie was fired March 10. Given Gilbert's history, which includes three shoulder surgeries, it was important to have more ballhandlers.

Smith, as he was waiting to board a plane back to Pittsburgh on Sunday, said UConn fans can expect "to see a hard working dude. I just look to compete every night, give it my all. I'm going to make a lot of plays defensively. I just want to win games. That's all I want to do."

What was it like playing for Bob Hurley, the Hall of Famer?

"Extremely intense," Smith said. "He was going to get the best out of you, a no-nonsense kind of guy who pushes his players to be mature beyond their years, which I think helped me. Playing at St. Anthony's, it teaches you how to be a mature kid, how to handle adversity."

Smith will get his undergrad degree in sports marketing, and is undecided what he will study at UConn. Having already transferred once, like Sterling Gibbs, who played at Texas and Seton Hall before finishing at UConn in 2016, Smith, 22, knows better what to look for and how to make the transition. Oklahoma, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Nevada had also contacted him after he got his release from Duquesne.

"You just know what situations fit you best, the coaching style," he said. "I've learned a lot about myself and learned a lot about college basketball."

Brendan Adams committed to Rhode Island last fall. Hurley left to take the UConn job March 22, then Adams de-committed last week. Though URI hired Hurley's associate head coach David Cox to replace Hurley, and held on to other incoming recruits, Adams got his release this week.

Xavier and Seton Hall were among the schools that contacted Adams, his high school coach, John Bauersfield, told the Baltimore Sun, but he quickly arranged a visit with UConn, arriving with his parents, Darryl and Yalonda.

You see the banners, the championships, and the history — you can feel a great program when you walk onto that campus.

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"When [UConn] contacted me, I didn't know what to expect," Brendan Adams said, "but I knew it could be a great situation. I have a great relationship with Coach Hurley. We built a relationship over the time he recruited me, and also with coach [Tom] Moore, and coach Kimani [Young] recruited me while he was at Minnesota. I was comfortable with him. So with all of them there, it was a great fit.


"… And when I visited, I just loved the whole atmosphere. You see the banners, the championships and the history — you can feel a great program when you walk onto that campus. … I'm going to be working very hard to get UConn back where it needs to be."

Kassoum Yakwe, a 6-7 forward from St. John's and a top shot-blocker, was also visiting this weekend, but did not commit.

UConn has one scholarship open for next year, if none of the current players decides to transfer. Hurley could use it on a frontcourt player, another grad transfer, an undergrad transfer who would have to sit out, or just save the scholarship in case an unforeseen opportunity opens up later.

Here with Nebraska as a freshman, struggling for a loose ball vs. Illinois.
Here with Nebraska as a freshman, struggling for a loose ball vs. Illinois. (Nati Harnik / AP)

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