UConn frosh Diggins adapts to a new life at Storrs | UConn men’s basketball
STORRS – Rahsool Diggins had a somewhat difficult start to his career with UConn’s men’s basketball team.
Shortly after arriving about four weeks ago, the Philadelphia freshman goaltender immediately saw the difference between a high school basketball practice and a top varsity basketball practice.
How was the latter?
âTo me, hell,â Diggins said neutrally on Wednesday afternoon. âIt has been a great experience, but it is only hard work. “
The 6-foot-2 former Archbishop Wood star, speaking to a small group of reporters just outside the Werth Center on the UConn campus, admits it took some time to s ” get used to the rhythm of the practices.
âI’m used to being able to walk to the next exercise, take my time, see it again,â Diggins said. âBut here you get straight to the point. You only have one hour (in summer workouts) so you run until the next exercise. They explain for 15 to 20 seconds and, boom, ball in the air.
Diggins, known as “Sool” by his teammates, family and friends, admits he had a moment of hesitating doubt about his ability to keep up with coach Dan Hurley’s practices.
âI’m a very confident person, but there was a day where I just sat there and I was like ‘Maybe this isn’t for me.’ You understand that thought, âDiggins said. âBut being as confident as I am, I can play. I know I can play. I just have to adapt to it. “
For what it’s worth, Diggins’ freshman comrades never noticed his moment of doubt. Shooting goaltender Jordan Hawkins and center Samson Johnson said they already see Diggins as one of the team’s leaders.
âHe talks so much,â Johnson said, clearly enjoying the chatter on and off the pitch. “He can come get you, just like that.” “
For his part, Diggins admits he’s already trying to lead the team a bit.
âIt’s brand new to me, but I can at least give it a try,â Diggins said.
UConn’s three newcomers, all ranked between 45 and 55 nationally by 247sports.com, represent another impressive influx of talent brought to Storrs by Hurley.
Now that the trio have arrived, the coaching staff have a new challenge: to acclimate them to campus and to the region.
The only culture shock bigger than basketball that Diggins has faced so far is food shock. His neighborhood in North Philly has some of the best cuisine there is, he says.
âChez Dalessandro. The best cheesesteaks in the world, in my opinion, âsaid Diggins. âGreat soul food too.â
Connecticut’s dining options, at least those within a reasonable distance of the Storrs campus, don’t quite have his approval.
âI haven’t had a cheesesteak here yet,â Diggins said. âThe food has been weird. Chick-fil-A is about 40 minutes away. I have seen Chick-fil-A three times. When I go to Chick-fil-A, I order big. I must have a count of 30 (chicken nuggets), three sandwiches, just so I can have it for the next day.
Diggins’ nutritional needs aside, he admits he’s glad he chose to attend a school a little out of the way. He was looking for a change from his upbringing in a big city.
âI think I needed to get away so that I could focus on basketball, not caring about women, going out and getting in trouble. Just basketball. If you want to be great, that’s what you need to focus on, âsaid Diggins.
He might know the streets of Philadelphia like the back of his hand, including the locations of at least half a dozen Chick-fil-A restaurants, but Diggins is still getting used to the UConn campus. He admits that he hasn’t discovered the functions of most buildings.
âI know Gampel, Werth, Burton and my room. That’s it, âsaid Diggins, referring to the basketball arena, basketball training center, soccer training center and his dormitory.
Like many players before him, Diggins is starting to realize that Storrs is much less than a bustling metropolis, especially in the summer. Of course, this relative isolation has produced four national championships in the past 22 years, which makes the trade-off much more palatable to most players.
âIt’s very different. I had to adapt because there’s nothing really there,â Diggins said.
Neill covers the men’s basketball and UConn football teams, and he keeps a finger on the pulse of Connecticut sports. For live game updates and more information about UConn athletics, player transfers and team changes, follow Neill on Twitter: @NeillOstrout, Facebook: JINeillO and Instagram: @NeillOstrout.