Defending national champion UConn on Friday night drastically improved its chances of cutting down the nets at April’s Final Four in New Orleans.
UConn gained a prized late addition to its 2011-12 roster in Andre Drummond, the No. 2-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2012 (behind Shabazz Muhammad).
Drummond on Friday night announced on Twitter that he has decided to leave Wilbraham and Monson prep school and enroll in college immediately.
“It’s official I’m heading to the university of connecticut to be a husky this year! Do I hear repeat?” Drummond tweeted at 6:30 p.m., CST.
The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Drummond joins a stellar recruiting class that includes 6-8 DeAndre Daniels, the No. 10-rated prospect in the Class of 2011, who shocked recruiting analysts by choosing UConn over Kansas and others last spring even though UConn wasn’t on his final list of schools.
In a wild twist, UConn actually has no scholarships available to give for the upcoming season. The Huskies are allowed just 10 scholarship players after losing three because of NCAA rules violations and a poor academic-performance rating.
CBSsports.com reported Friday that Drummond could become a walk-on and pay his own way his only year in college, a remarkable development since he is one of the top prospects in the country. Others have speculated the Huskies will strip one of the returning players of a scholarship before classes begin Tuesday. A player cannot be removed from scholarship once the school year begins.
Just recently, Drummond had narrowed his list of colleges to UConn, Georgetown, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia. NBAdraft.net believes Drummond will be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.
UConn returns starters Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier from last year’s national championship team. Coach Jim Calhoun, 69, still has not officially announced he will be back this season.
KU had no players make Dick Vitale’s All-Solid Gold team, which consists of the top 25 players in the country. Baylor’s Perry Jones made second team and Texas A&M;’s Khris Middleton fifth team.
Here’s Vitale’s complete list:
First team: Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh; Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin; Jared Sullinger, Ohio State; Terrence Jones, Kentucky; Harrison Barnes, North Carolina.
Second team: Tu Holloway, Xavier; John Jenkins, Vanderbilt; Tyler Zeller, North Carolina; Perry Jones, Baylor, Kris Joseph, Syracuse.
Third team: JaMychal Green, Alabama; Robbie Hummel, Purdue; John Henson, North Carolina; William Buford, Ohio State; Jeremy Lamb, UConn.
Fourth team: Yancy Gates, Cincinnati; Draymond Green, Michigan State; Elias Harris, Gonzaga; Kendall Marshall, North Carolina; Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan.
Fifth team: Festis Ezell, Vanderbilt; Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota; Khris Middleton, Texas A&M; Doron Lamb, Kentucky; Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury booted freshman forward D.J. Gardner from the team Friday, a day after the coach announced that the player would red-shirt.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger wrote that Gardner had reacted to the red-shirt news by posting “vulgar tweets,” blasting the coaching staff for its decision. Gardner, 6-6 from Okolona, Miss., averaged 32 points a game as a high school senior, choosing Mississippi State over Memphis and others.