“Liam definitely impressed me the most" — Alex Karaban compliments UConn freshman for competitive mindset that makes him "special player"

Alex Karaban, Liam McNeeley
Alex Karaban gives his first take on freshman Liam McNeeley | (Credit: Instagram/@liammcneeley, @alexkaraban_)

Alex Karaban is the only returning starter from UConn's championship roster last season. The program lost Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle and Tristen Newton to the big league and is determined to find the missing pieces. With that, the program recently acquired Liam McNeeley, a 6-foot-7 top-10 high school recruit in the 2024 class.

McNeeley withdrew his commitment to Indiana and overlooked institutions like Kentucky, Arkansas, Michigan and Alabama to be with Dan Hurley. Now, as the freshman forges chemistry with his new crew, Karaban points at the key factors that make McNeeley UConn's best find this season.

"Liam definitely impressed me the most,” Karaban said. “I think as a freshman, the way he carries himself, the way he works and just how competitive he is. And just how his mindset’s driven to always want to get better and always want to compete. He’s definitely impressed me the most," he added.
"And I know he’s going to be a special player. I think he’s going to be one of the best freshmen in the country, and he’s super determined to reach that goal this season,” Karaban continued.

McNeeley is a dependable 3-point shooter who converted nearly 45% of his 3-pointers last season. He can spot up, shoot off the bounce and deny screens to get to his shot.

Moreover, he can also effortlessly share the pie. McNeeley maintained a near 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last year and has the skill set to exploit clear lanes. He can also hold his own on the defensive end of the floor.

Dan Hurley called Alex Karaban before rejecting the Lakers' coaching offer

Last weekend, Coach Hurley was dealing with one of the biggest decisions in college basketball: a potential coaching role with the Los Angeles Lakers. Before he made his decision, the back-to-back championship-winning coach called his junior forward Karaban.

Hurley gathered Karaban's thoughts about the team's morale and sentiments. In response, Karaban displayed unwavering support on behalf of the UConn roster.

Interstingly, Karaban was in a similar situation days before Hurley's call. He was testing his skills for the NBA draft and had received a positive response from recruiters during the 2024 Combine. Nevertheless, Karaban chose to withdraw his draft candidacy and return to UConn for a chance at a three-peat with Hurley.

What could Alabama basketball's 2024-25 starting lineup look like? Find out here

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Edited by Glen Danquah
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