STORRS, Conn — Sam Cassell Jr. carries more than his father’s name onto the basketball court — he relies on his moves, too.
When UConn coach Kevin Ollie was talking about his new 6-foot-4 guard at last week’s Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, he described the younger Cassell as having an “old man game,” which is the same way Sam Cassell Sr.
made a living for 15 years in the NBA.
“Everybody says my father has an old man game, so me growing up watching him all the time, I had to steal some of his moves,” Cassell said, with a smile. “It works, so I just want it to work for me.”
The Huskies have some young legs in their backcourt with sophomores Terrence Samuel and Rodney Purvis to pair with senior Ryan Boatright, which should help them pick up the tempo this season.
Cassel might not be able to match that speed, but the 22-year-old guard makes up for it in other areas. Last year, Cassell was named a first-team All-American after he averaged 18.4 points and 3.7 assists for Chipola (Junior) College, which went 26-6 and advanced to the NJCAA Region VII Championship.
“He’s not going to be on the highlights dunking on anybody, but wherever he wants to get on the court, he gets there and at his own pace,” Ollie said. “It’s not going to be fast like Boatright. He’s going to get there at his own pace and he’s always going to make the right decisions with the basketball. His IQ is out of the roof, kind of like Shabazz Napier.”
— Sam Cassell Jr.
Purvis, who bonded with Cassell over the summer while they attended summer classes at UConn, said his teammate knows how to get the job done.
“He’s a veteran guard — he’s 22 — so he definitely knows how to play the game,” Purvis said. “He’s a vet, not really in college (experience) but in age, so he knows how to play.
“He just knows how to play the game. He’s not going to blow by you or anything. He’ll just slow walk you, and then by the time you look up, he’s going to the basket, so that’s really his style of game and he’s good at it.”
Going into the season, the Huskies have a deep, talented backcourt, that includes freshman Daniel Hamilton, who could play in the backcourt or at small forward, and junior Omar Calhoun.
“No, not this much talent,” Cassell said. “In high school it was always one, two and maybe three, who could get a bucket and was very talented, but here everyone is talented.”
And that means the practice battles to earn minutes on game days should be rather intense.
“You have to bring you’re ‘A game’ every day, competing for minutes,” Cassell said. “I’m just trying to compete for minutes and win a national championship.”
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) September 29, 2014