UConn’s 8 newcomers already competing for playing time

UConn players Antwowine Anderson (left), Kwintin Williams and David Onuorah prepare to meet the media inside the Huskies practice comples on September 14, 2017 in Storrs, Conn. The three transfer students are among eight newcomers to the UConn roster this season . (AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The competition to earn playing time is already in high gear at UConn, where eight newcomers have joined the Huskies.

So far, it’s been just pickup games, limited workouts with coaches and on Thursday, their first media session.

But 6-foot-9 freshman forward Josh Carlton said everyone knows they have a chance at playing time and everyone is looking to impress.

“The minutes are out there,” he said. “There is no real solid lineup in stone right now, so everyone is going hard. I think that could be an advantage.”

The roster includes just two players who saw significant action during last year’s 16-17 campaign — guards Jalen Adams, who led the team in scoring at just over 14 points a game, and Christian Vital.

The Huskies no longer have guard Rodney Purvis, who played out his eligibility. Big men Steven Enoch and Juwan Durham and wing Vance Jackson, three players who were expected to have big roles this season, all transferred.

Three others, junior transfer Terry Larrier, and redshirt freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Alterique Gilbert are back after sitting out most of the season with injuries.

There are four true freshmen — forwards Carlton, Tyler Polley, Sidney Wilson and Isaiah Whaley. They join junior college transfers Eric Cobb and Kwintin Williams and graduate transfers Antwoine Anderson and David Onuorah.

“We did a lot of bonding over the summer,” said Onuorah, who graduated from Cornell this spring, where he averaged 3.4 points and 4.7 rebounds. “We all know each other. There’s no need for name tags or anything like that.”

The team won’t have any player over 6-9. But Williams, who is listed at 6-7 and 211 pounds, said that doesn’t mean the team will struggle in the post.

“Some of us are a little better at rebounding, some of us are shooters and some are 6-9 guards,” he said. “Right now we’re getting it all figured out and I believe we’ll have a great season and we’ll be really fast as well.”

The Huskies are waiting to hear whether Wilson, who transferred from St. John’s after taking a single summer school class, will be allowed to play. The 6-7, highly recruited wing is seeking an NCAA waiver to play this season rather than sit out a year as a transfer student.

“The NCAA is something that I can’t control,” he said. “If they grant me the waiver, I’m happy. If not, I’m just going to cheer my teammates on and wait till next year.”

Fans will have to wait a while to see all the Huskies on the court. The annual First Night celebration, marking the start of practice, has been cancelled this year because of ongoing work to replace the roof of Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies will have their first full practice on Sept. 30. The game schedule is expected to be released on Friday.