UConn Men’s Basketball Continues Offseason Domination with Transfer Aidan Mahaney

The Huskies also landed Michigan transfer Tarris Reed Jr. and five-star freshman Liam McNeeley since winning the title earlier this month.
Mahaney will join a UConn team hoping to three-peat as national champions.
Mahaney will join a UConn team hoping to three-peat as national champions. / James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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As his team cruised to a second straight men’s basketball national championship earlier this month in Phoenix, UConn Huskies head coach Dan Hurley joked his biggest motivation in winning it all was to avoid having to recruit the transfer portal longer. 

“I just don’t want to deal with the portal s***,” Hurley said with a smile. “That’s why we’re trying to win so hard right now. I’m seeing what other people are doing, and it’s chaos. I can hide behind, ‘Hey, my season’s still going on.’ ”

However reluctant he was to wade into the portal waters, Hurley and his staff have once again nailed their offseason additions. The latest big move: Landing Saint Mary’s Gaels transfer guard Aidan Mahaney over the likes of the Kentucky Wildcats, Creighton Bluejays and Virginia Cavaliers. Mahaney joins Michigan Wolverines transfer Tarris Reed Jr. and five-star freshman Liam McNeeley in Hurley’s offseason haul, a group that will be tasked with helping the Huskies in their quest to three-peat as national champions. 

Mahaney, in so many ways, is a quintessential Hurley player. He’s a high-level three-point shooter capable of making shots off the catch or the dribble. He’s an elite processor of the game, making good reads and decisions. He has experience playing in an offense that runs plenty of sets at Saint Mary’s, and he’s the type of player who fits UConn’s selfless brand of basketball. He’s not as big or as good defensively as Cam Spencer was, but it’s not hard to envision Mahaney in a somewhat similar role as a fiery, creative combo guard who takes and makes tough shots. 

McNeeley, Friday’s big commitment, also provides elite shooting. The former Indiana Hoosiers pledge was recruited by almost everyone this spring after reopening his recruitment. He’s an elite three-point shooter, another high-feel player who can defend multiple positions and a winner from his time at Montverde Academy. He could slot in as a true wing replacing Stephon Castle’s starting spot or provide insurance in the event Alex Karaban elects to stay in the NBA draft. 

McNeeley, a five-star prospect, chose the Huskies after reopening his recruitment this spring.
McNeeley, a five-star prospect, chose the Huskies after reopening his recruitment this spring. / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

And while Reed seems unlikely to replicate what Donovan Clingan did for UConn defensively, he gives the Huskies another two-headed monster at center with Samson Johnson. He’s a better rim protector and more physical post presence than the high-flying Johnson, and the two seem likely to be a productive platoon. 

Replacing the amount the Huskies lose (two likely lottery picks in Clingan and Castle, two star seniors in Spencer and Tristen Newton, plus potentially Karaban) and still competing for a national championship is extremely hard to do, even in this era of roster movement. But if anyone has proven to have the recipe to do just that, it’s Hurley and UConn. The Huskies navigated last year’s big losses in expert fashion, repeating as champs despite losing Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson Jr. and Adama Sanogo to the professional ranks. This may end up being an even bigger challenge, but not an impossible one for Hurley and company. As presently constructed, UConn would land sixth in T-Rank’s way-too-early analytics-based projections, clearly within striking distance of championship contention.

Whether he enjoys recruiting the portal or not, Hurley’s hit rate while recruiting it has been ridiculous. Spencer was one of the three best transfers in the sport last year. Newton spent two years with the Huskies, won two titles, a Bob Cousy Award and an NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player honor. Before that came R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin, who helped set the foundation for Hurley’s championship run. And that’s not even mentioning key role players like Hassan Diarra and Joey Calcaterra, who’ve been key under-the-radar adds to recent title teams. Recruiting the portal has been a crapshoot for a lot of teams in college basketball, but not UConn, and these recent additions are easy to give the benefit of the doubt to given Hurley’s track record. 

If repeating as champs was a tall task, three-peating is a monumental one. But so far, the Huskies are making all the right moves to at least try to make men’s college hoops history. 


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Kevin Sweeney

KEVIN SWEENEY

Kevin Sweeney is a staff writer at Sports Illustrated covering college basketball and the NBA Draft, and is an analyst for The Field of 68. A graduate of Northwestern, Kevin is a voter for the Naismith Trophy and is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).