McConnell decides on Arizona
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 01:04
The first game of T.J. McConnell’s sophomore season in Tucson, Ariz., gave him a sneak peak of the place he will call home for his final two seasons of eligibility. The former Duquesne point guard made his decision Tuesday to transfer to the University of Arizona next fall.
In the three weeks since he announced his decision to leave Duquesne, McConnell had been considering Arizona, Virginia and Penn State as possible destinations. Penn State was removed from that list a week after he announced his tranfer, and McConnell went on to visit both Arizona and Virginia, which led him to pick the Wildcats.
“When I visited Arizona, once I got on the campus, I loved the people and the players,” McConnell said. “Especially the coaching staff, they have a great staff.”
McConnell witnessed an Arizona basketball game first-hand when Duquesne fell 67-59 to the Wildcats on national television in the Dukes’ first game of this past season in front of 13,289 fans at the McKale Center.
“While playing out there, I saw great fans,” McConnell said. “They had great players, and it is exciting to think I’ll be playing with them.”
In his final season at Duquesne, McConnell averaged 11.4 points, 5.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. He was also third in the nation with 2.8 steals per contest.
McConnell will most likely replace Arizona redshirt-senior point guard Kyle Fogg when McConnell becomes eligible to play at the start of the 2013 season. Fogg put up similar numbers to McConnell this past year, averaging 13.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, but only two assists.
Arizona coach Sean Miller could not comment due to an NCAA policy that does not permit athletic departments to discuss acquisitions until paperwork is officially filed.
After sitting out a year, McConnell said he will look to introduce a “will to win” at Arizona.
“I’m going to give them hard work, and I’m going to get the guys the ball,” McConnell said.
“That’s what I always try to do. I’m going to get them their points.”
McConnell said he was not aware of Duquesne’s intent to dismiss former-coach Ron Everhart while making his decision.
The Dukes will look to retool after the transfers of McConnell, sophomore guard Mike Talley and freshman guard Danny Herrera, as well as the firing of Ron Everhart. Duquesne Athletic Director Greg Amodio announced Tuesday that Duquesne would hire former Long Island University coach Jim Ferry. On Monday, Talley announced on his Twitter he would transfer to Eastern Michigan University.
McConnell said he is confident in Duquesne’s ability to succeed with the core that will be left.
“I know they’ll work hard. The new coach will have them motivated,” McConnell said. “I know Sean [Johnson], Andre [Marhold] and Martins [Abele] will have a big year. I’m sure they’ll look to make a run at this thing.”
McConnell said not many of his former teammates have discussed his transfer with him since it was announced March 20, but said Abele and guard/forward Jerry Jones have both congratulated him. He said he will always have fond memories of his time at Duquesne.
“I want to thank coach Everhart, Mr. Amodio, my teammates and everyone at Duquesne University for my time here. I love Duquesne,” McConnell said. “It wasn’t the coaches, the players or the school that drove me to make this decision. I just wanted to play at a higher level, and I want to thank Duquesne for giving me my start.”