UConn star Adama Sanogo is entering the 2023 NBA Draft after a legendary NCAA Tournament performance during the Huskies' march to the 2023 national championship. Sanogo was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player to cap a standout junior season during which he served as a team co-captain.
Sanogo earned Third Team All-America honors from CBS Sports for the 2022-23 season while proving nearly impossible for some opponents to defend. Sanogo averaged 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds on 60.6% shooting for the season, but elevated his game even higher during the Big Dance with 19.7 points and 9.8 rebounds on 66.7% shooting with four double-doubles in six double-digit tournament wins. Sanogo also demonstrated his blossoming perimeter touch in the Final Four by hitting 2 of 3 attempts from beyond the arc in UConn's victory over Miami.
Beyond the measurable, on-court attributes that Sanogo brought in the 2022-23 season, it was his leadership that helped sustain UConn during a roller-coaster season that culminated with the program standing atop college basketball for the fifth time in the past 25 seasons.
Sanogo's draft projection
Sanogo is not among CBS Sports' top 50 draft prospects for the 2023 class. He will need to shed the label of "traditional big" in order to rise draft boards and become a rotation player on an NBA team.
At just 6-foot-9 and with good-not-great athleticism, Sanogo is not an elite rim protector. His best weapon for UConn has been his offense acumen in the post. However, Sanogo added the 3-point shot to his arsenal during the 2022-23 season by hitting 36.5% of his attempts from the arc and looked great as a passer when Gonzaga brought double teams during the Elite Eight. He also has the chance to become a serviceable perimeter defender since he has better-than-expected lateral agility for a player of his size and frame.
Ultimately, the continued development of an outside shot and a commitment to defensive versatility are high on the list of skills Sanogo will need to demonstrate in order to be selected in the NBA Draft.
Impact on UConn
Though Sanogo's 2023 NCAA Tournament performance will go down in the annals of UConn basketball history, it became apparent that Huskies' coach Dan Hurley could face a difficult decision with how to handle the program's center position for 2023-24 season amid the emergence of Donovan Clingan.
The 7-foot-2 Clingan announced on April 8 that he is returning to the program for his sophomore season. As a true freshman, Clingan logged just 13.1 minutes per game behind Sanogo, but he shined when he was on the court by blocking 1.8 shots per game and making 65.5% of his offensive attempts. Clingan's emergence as one of the top rim protectors in all of college basketball along with his offensive promise and remarkable athleticism make him one of the sport's most unique bigs. Finding enough playing time for both Clingan and Sanogo would have been a challenge for Hurley in 2023-24.
Of course, if Sanogo opted for a return to UConn, it would be a great problem for Hurley to have. But if Sanogo stays in the draft, as he is expected to do, the Huskies should be perfectly fine at center with Clingan.