STORRS, Conn. --- The UConn men’s basketball program has received three signed National Letters Of Intent, from guard James Akinjo (Richmond, Calif.), forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. (Tacoma, Wash.), and big man Lukas Kisunas (Vilnius, Lithuania).
The three student-athletes will enroll as freshmen in the fall of 2018.
“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 point guard out of Salesian College Prep, was recruited by the Huskies as early as last April, but his stock exploded when he was named MVP of the prestigious Peach Jam Tournament in July after leading his AAU team to the tourney championship. He averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds during the tourney’s eight games. He also considered Maryland, Iowa State, Virginia and Cal-Berkeley.
“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.”
Matthews is an athletic 6-7 forward who can play on the perimeter or inside. He averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds last season for Woodrow Wilson High School in Tacoma. He also had interest from Georgetown, West Virginia, Seton Hall and Oregon State. He is coming all the way across the country, but has family in New Jersey.
“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 6-10, 250-pound forward/center who is playing his second season at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) after helping Brewster to a 33-0 record last year and the National Prep School Championship. Current UConn junior Jalen Adams and freshman Sidney Wilson are also Brewster Academy products.
Kisunas has been the starting center on the U16, U17, and U18 national teams in his native Lituania. Last summer in the European Championships with the U18 team, Kisunas averaged 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and shot 52.3 percent. An outstanding student, Kisunas had drawn the interest of several Ivy League schools, as well as 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.”