STORRS - UConn coach Kevin Ollie is thrilled about the players he signed this week for the Class of 2018, whether or not any national ranking service agrees.
Point guard James Akinjo of Richmond, California; small forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. of Tacoma, Washington; and center Lukas Kisunas of Vilnius, Lithuania, all signed letters of intent to play for the Huskies next season.
“It’s a good mix, and they are all players that we need,” Ollie said. “They are all coming in here for a reason. A lot of people look at the rankings, but they are top 10 players for us as a team. That’s what we’re looking for and that’s what we’re striving to do with our recruiting.”
Akinjo, a 6-foot guard who was MVP of the Peach Jam in July, also considered Maryland, Iowa State, Virginia and Cal.
“James is a point guard, a leader, and just a winner,” Ollie said. “His toughness came through at the Peach Jam, when he led his team to the championship, but he’s always had that winning mentality. He’s a great kid who will be a great leader. He’ll be a true point guard for us.”
The 6-foot-7 Matthews averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds as a junior at Woodrow Wilson High. He was considering Georgetown, West Virginia, Seton Hall and Oregon State before opting for the Huskies.
“Emmitt is a tremendous athlete, who can really run the court,” Ollie said. “We want him to be able to play defense on four different positions. He’s a nice shooter who can make the three and also has outstanding skills as a facilitator - he can really pass the ball. He’s another versatile guy who can play multiple positions to add to our roster.”
Kisunas is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man who is in his second season at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He helped Brewster to a 33-0 record last year. Current UConn junior Jalen Adams and freshman Sidney Wilson are also Brewster Academy products.
Kisunas, who was the starting center on the U18 national team in Lithuania, also had offers from Illinois, Creighton, Pittsburgh, and Providence.
“Lukas is a tough big man who really understands the game,” Ollie said. “He’s an exceptional passer, a player you can run the offense through. That’s a great thing to have, a 5-man who can pop out and have the offense run through him. Lukas is a great screener, a pick-and-roll guy, and he has a great skill set as a big. I think he’ll be a great addition to the young bigs we already have in the program.”