ATLANTA - Last year at this time the news around the Connecticut basketball program was dominated by players transferring to other schools.
Friday, the news traveled the other direction. UConn coach Kevin Ollie and his staff got the news that North Carolina State guard Rodney Purvis is transferring to Storrs.
Just four days after announcing he would leave the Wolfpack, Purvis put an end to the rumors he would jump to the Huskies with a post on Twitter Friday afternoon that read: "Feeling Husky!!!!!!"
Purvis, a former McDonald's All-American, had been close to choosing UConn out of high school but a long recruitment that included some academic issues ended up with him heading to Raleigh, his hometown.
In one of the strangest transfer releases ever, N.C. State had granted his transfer to any school outside the Atlantic Coast Conference except Missouri and Cincinnati, which are future potential non-conference opponents of the Wolfpack. And the ACC ban included incoming Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville.
Purvis will be required to sit out the 2013-14 season but would be ready to step in when Shabazz Napier's eligibility ends. Nothing is official but Napier is expected to return to the Huskies next season.
In a statement at the time of his announcement, Purvis said he needed "a fresh start" and to "step outside of my comfort zone" by going elsewhere. Ollie recruited Purvis out of high school while he was an assistant to former coach Jim Calhoun.
As a freshman, Purvis averaged 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists and started 23 of the first 25 games - including the Jimmy V Classic that UConn lost to the Wolfpack. His minutes fell off when the Wolfpack elevated freshman forward T.J. Warren into the starting lineup to give the team some size and rebounding.
Purvis scored a total of 12 points and averaged just 12.8 minutes in his final four games, three coming in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and the last in the loss to Temple in the Wolfpack's NCAA tournament opener.
Purvis' departure was the latest move in a turnover-filled offseason for the Wolfpack, who fell far short of expectations that had N.C. State entering the year as the ACC favorite and with a No. 6 national ranking. N.C. State already knew it was losing seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood, then juniors C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown announced their expected early jumps to the NBA.
Ollie Gets Jobe Award
UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, announced Friday night by Collegeinsider.com in Atlanta, site of the Final Four.
The Ben Jobe Award is given annually to the top minority coach in Division I basketball, who has produced the best results from his team under adverse or otherwise difficult conditions.
Ollie, who took over the UConn program last September from Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, guided the Huskies to a 20-win season season (20-10) in 2012-13, and a 10-8 record in the Big East Conference, despite a roster depleted by early defections to the NBA and transfers. The record included victories over nationally-ranked Syracuse, Michigan State, and Notre Dame.
Ollie was among those on a list of 20 finalists for this year’s award, which included some of the top minority coaches in the country. Past recipients of the award include Ed Cooley of Fairfield in 2010, Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State in 2011, and Sean Woods of Mississippi Valley State in 2012.
Ollie was also on a list of finalists for the Collegeinsider.com’s Joe B. Hall Award, which recognizes the top first-year coach in Division I college basketball. The awards were announced Friday night at the Collegeinsider.com Awards Banquet in Atlanta.
The award is named in honor of Jobe, a pioneer for minority coaches in college basketball. Jobe, now 80 and still doing some scouting for the New York Knicks, won 524 games in 31 years of coaching at colleges like Alabama State, South Carolina State, Alabama A&M, and the University of Denver. He is best-known, however, for the 12 successful years he spent as coach of Southern University, taking his team to four NCAA Tournaments and an NIT appearance.
Material from the Associated Press and a UConn press release included in this report.