UConn Recruit Says Calhoun Had 'High Blood Pressure'; Huskies Offer Mike Poole

UNION, N.J. — UConn recruit Roscoe Smith of Oak Hill Academy says Huskies coach Jim Calhoun told him he took his leave of absence because of “high blood pressure.”

“[Calhoun] said really he’s just old, he’s just old,” Smith said Saturday night after Oak Hill beat St. Patrick, 79-78, at Kean College. “The doctor said he needed a rest because of…high blood pressure.”

The 6-foot-8 Smith verbally committed to UConn last month and then thought his recruiting process was over.

But that was before Calhoun took a seven-game leave of absence due to unexplained medical reasons.

Calhoun returned Saturday for UConn’s 60-48 loss to Cincinnati in Hartford. After the game, he said he was “embarrassed” by the performance of his players.

UConn is heavy on the NCAA tournament bubble entering Monday’s ESPN “Big Monday” showdown with Villanova at the Wachovia Center.

When Calhoun was out, Smith admitted to having “doubts” about his commitment. He still has not signed his Letter of Intent.

“The situation with Calhoun is a big factor because that’s the main reason why I’m going to UConn,” Smith said.

Smith said Calhoun called him last week to notify him he would be back.

“Yes, he called me personally and he called my family [last] week,” Smith said. “He said he’s doing fine. He said he will be coaching the next game. For me and my family, that’s a good thing to hear, you know?”

Now Smith, the No. 6 small forward in the Class of 2010, said he remains fully committed to playing at UConn.

“I had my doubts but I believed in him because I gave him my word and he gave me his his word, so I just stuck by and hopefully he’s doing better,” Smith said.

The Huskies will lose Jerome Dyson to graduation and Stanley Robinson to the NBA, so Smith sees an opportunity to come in and play right away.

“They told me right off the bat, everything’s going to be wide open,” Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity for me next season.”

UCONN OFFERS MIKE POOLE

Calhoun must have been busy this week.

Nate Blue said the UConn coach called this week to offer a scholarship to 6-6 senior forward Mike Poole, who had 12 points in St. Benedict’s 82-38 rout of Lakewood (N.J.) in the PrimeTime Shootout at Kean.

“Calhoun called the first day he got back,” said Blue, Poole’s adviser. “He let us know that he had a strong interest in Mike. [Assistant coach] Andre LaFleur also called and said he wanted me to know that they offered Mike. They had a recruiting meeting and a couple scholarships might open up.”

Blue also advises UConn-bound junior wing Maurice Harkless of Queens Forest Hills.

UConn’s 2010 class currently includes Smith, 6-4  shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, 6-8 power forward Cleveland Melvin and 6-9 big man Michael Bradley. The Huskies are also pursuing elite guards Doron Lamb, Brandon Knight and Cory Joseph.

“They look at Mike as a player,” Blue said. “He can play different positions like Kris Joseph does at Syracuse. He plays on a winning team for a winning coach [Dan Hurley].

“Mike hasn’t lost five games in his three years there. They need guys that are going to be tough New York City kids.”

Said Hurley: “Mike’s a young guy. He’s really coming on as a prospect and I think a lot of people like him.”

Poole played one year at Rice alongside UConn guard Kemba Walker, Miami freshman Durand Scott and Arizona freshman guard Lamont “Momo” Jones.

Blue said Rhode Island and Virginia were also involved for Poole.

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