Phil Nolan, a 6-foot-10, 209-pound center from Milwaukee Riverside, has verbally committed to UConn and will visit the school for the first time beginning Sunday.
“Basically, in my opinion, over the last three years UConn has been one of the best programs in the Big East and I know with some guys transferring and some guy entering the Draft, there will be minutes available to me as a freshman if I work hard enough,” he told SNY.tv by phone.
“It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Nolan visited St. John’s this past weekend and will go to UConn Sunday.
“It all came down to St. John’s and UConn and I chose UConn over St. John’s,” he said.
The Huskies lost Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to the NBA Draft and Alex Oriakhi and Michael Bradley to transfer, opening up playing time in the front court.
Riverside coach Tyrone “Rock” Lewis told SNY.tv it was “shock” to him that Nolan pulled the trigger for UConn so quickly, but said, “I’m happy for the kid.”
Ranked the No. 21 center in the Class of 2012 by Rivals, Nolan averaged 16.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.3 steals for a Riverside team that went 16-8.
“I know they’re going to get the best out of him,” Lewis said. “He’s very athletic, runs the floor real well. If he gets a chance, he can show his outside shooting and ball-handling skills and his back to the rim skills.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit for him playing wth a legendary coach in Coach [Jim] Calhoun. Any coach would like to play for a legend like that. He can really help him get to the peak of his ballgame.”
UConn is banned from the postseason for 2013 but Nolan has a chance to establish himself going forward, along with Christ the King guard Omar Calhoun.
“I pretty much don’t have any comment on that [the postseason ban],” he said. “I’m just happy to be a part of the UConn family.”