All of the incoming big men at UConn this season

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Josh Carlton watched with pride last week as his friend and former high school teammate, Markelle Fultz, was selected as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

“To see him up there, it was very exciting,” Carlton said of Fultz, who he teamed with for one season two years ago at DeMatha High in Washington, D.C. “I’m looking forward to seeing him do great things with the 76ers. It was exciting watching the draft, seeing him go up there. A little motivation that maybe I’ll be there one day.”

Indeed, Carlton, a 6 foot 9 power forward who will begin his college career at UConn this season, would love to hear his name called off by NBA commissioner Adam Silver someday. But he knows that day, if it ever happens, is a long, long way off.

“Gotta put in the work first,” he said.

Like all of the incoming freshmen and all of the incoming big men at UConn this season, Carlton needs a lot of work. He’s somewhat of a throwback power forward, a big, physical presence 225 pounds who can score with his back to the basket and distribute the ball to his guards through the low post.

But Carlton also needs to improve his athleticism and foot speed, as well as his face up game, his touch around the rim and his ballhandling, if he is to help the Huskies this season.

“That’s coming https://www.uwhuskiesbasketballjersey.com/isaiah-thomas-jersey-c-4.html,” he promises. “It’s times like this, in the summer, where you work on that kind of stuff.”

And make no mistake, the opportunity for minutes right off the bat is there for Carlton, just as it is for the rest of the Huskies’ new big men. When Carlton committed to UConn last fall, it appeared he’d have guys like Steve Enoch and Juwan Durham ahead of him on the depth chart. But Enoch and Durham both transferred this offseason https://www.uwhuskiesbasketballjersey.com/david-crisp-jersey-c-2.html, and UConn has no returning players in the frontcourt. Mamadou Diarra sat out all of last season with knee issues; David Onuorah and Eric Cobb are transfers from Cornell and Chipola College, respectively ; and, Isaiah Whaley and Tyler Polley join Carlton as incoming freshmen.

“I do see it as an opportunity,” Carlton said. “It would be nice to have Enoch and Durham , because it’s always nice to have more bodies. But it’s an opportunity for me to go in and prove myself right away.”

Onuorah and Cobb might be first in line for minutes due to their experience. Onuorah might be the team’s best rim protector, while Cobb at 6 9, 285 pounds could be the tough, big body the team has lacked in recent years.

But Carlton will be very much in the picture, as well.

“He’s a very skilled, big body,” said coach Kevin Ollie. “It’s not like we’re telling new strength and conditioning coach Carlos Daniel to put 25 pounds on him. We want to get him more lean and physically in shape, condition wise. He’s very talented around the rim, can rebound. I expect him to compete for minutes. He could be https://www.uwhuskiesbasketballjersey.com/bitumba-baruti-jersey-c-1.html, eventually, a person that we can throw it down low to. He can command a double team, eventually.”

In fact, Ollie sees similarities between Carlton and Enoch, the 6 10, 250 pound rising junior who transferred to Louisville.

“Enoch is better skilled than him now, but I kind of compare those two, skill wise https://www.uwhuskiesbasketballjersey.com/dan-kingma-jersey-c-3.html,” the coach noted. “He’s got great touch around the basket. Hopefully, he can come in and compete for some minutes.”

Of course, there’s one area where Ollie hopes Carlton can be better than Enoch.

“The only way they get on court is if they pick up defensive schemes,” the coach added. “Hopefully, he can do that.”

Carlton was born in Silver Springs, Maryland and lived in Clinton, Maryland until preschool, when he moved to Winterville, North Carolina. After his sophomore year, his parents decided to move back to Maryland, and Carlton enrolled at DeMatha, the longtime basketball powerhouse.

He teamed with Fultz as a junior, and the star guard quickly became a good friend.

“He really helped me out a lot, as far as when I was getting acclimated there,” Carlton said.

When asked if he thought at that time that Fultz would be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft just a couple of years later, however, Carlton took a long pause.

“The way Markelle is, he gets better so much every year,” Carlton finally replied. “I mean, his growth from that year to now has been crazy. You never know with him, because of how much better he gets every year. But I could definitely see it. He loves the game, he works hard.”

That’s something Josh Carlton is prepared to do, as well, as he begins his college career at UConn this season.

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