NORTH STONINGTON - Last season, UConn guard Jalen Adams only played 2½ games with Alterique Gilbert.
For the remainder of what became a dreadful season for the Huskies, Adams shouldered a tremendous load.
Guard Christian Vital stepped in and was better than many expected, but the Adams-Gilbert duo was projected to be the Huskies’ major force in 2016-17.
Now that Adams is about to start his junior season - and Gilbert re-start his freshman season after shoulder surgery - UConn fans may finally get to see Adams at his peak.
“I think it’s going to be a great adjustment and I think he’s going to welcome the challenge,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said Monday before his annual charity golf event at Lake of Isles. “It’s going to give him a chance to get off the ball a little bit, run the court, get the ball ahead. And he’s dynamic in the fast break.”
Although the Huskies will continue to rely heavily on Adams, perhaps even more so to score points, the burden of doing everything is perhaps gone.
“It seemed like last year he had to make almost every play,” Ollie said. “He led the conference in assists, and we would love for him to be back up there again. But having him score a little bit more, play off the ball, not seeing double-teams on the pick-and-rolls, him getting it on the second side, is really going to allow him to penetrate even more.”
Ollie envisions Adams becoming what he calls “a four-level scorer.” Two of the coach’s levels Adams has nearly mastered, Ollie says. Adams has an outstanding mid-range game and can drive to the basket with the best players in the nation.
But Ollie wants to see Adams become a more consistent 3-point shooter as well as to draw more fouls to take advantage of his free throw shooting.