Spotlight On Rudy Gay

The Hartford Courant

UConn career highlights: Gay averaged 13.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in two seasons at UConn. A high-flying small forward, Gay had a career-high 28 points in the 2005 Maui Invitational, a performance that seemed to set the stage for a hyped and analyzed sophomore season.

Gay didn't always carry the team like some other UConn greats, but he certainly had physical gifts unmatched by just about any player in program history.

As a freshman, Gay averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He was the Big East co-rookie of the year, with Georgtown's Jeff Green. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds and was named first-team All-Big East.

NBA career: After announcing he would forgo his final two years of eligibility at UConn, Gay was disappointed to be selected eighth overall by the Houston Rockets. A draft-night trade sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gay averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie in 2006-07, production he nearly doubled his second year with averages of 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. He has continued to post good numbers -- 18.9 points in 2008-09, 19.6 in 2009-10 -- and has emerged into one of the better small forwards in the NBA.

This summer, Gay was rewarded. He was the first to cash in on July 1, signing a five-year, $82 million extension with Memphis.

His career-high is 41 against Miami last season.

A Difficult Goodbye: A few weeks after UConn was upset by George Mason in the Elite Eight, Gay announced he would leave early for the NBA. Calhoun was supportive of the move.

"One of the questions I was asked is, `Would he be in a better place [if he returned] next year?''' Calhoun said. ``We'd be in the better place. Would he? I'm not so sure. ... Knowing the kind of kid he is and the man he will become, I think the decision is difficult, but I think it is the right decision, clearly and definitively. ... This opportunity appears too good to pass and, secondly, there is no question that Rudy will fulfill the promise those people who draft him have for him.''

Gay's departure is still talked about around Gampel Pavilion for two reasons.

--Weeks after deciding to leave, and after hiring an agent, he expressed to the coaching staff and academic advisers that he wanted to return. It was too late.

--The 2006-07 Huskies, a team without a single junior or senior, desperately needed some carryover and experience. If only the Huskies had Gay, Calhoun said on many occasions, the team would have had a completely different look.

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