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Former CT High School Standouts Playing Key Roles In NCAA Tournament

Norwalk native Steven Enoch of Louisville is but one of the Connecticut players in this year's Big Dance. Photo Credit: Louisville Athletics
Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Purdue, and Virginia Commonwealth feature Connecticut natives as key team members. Yale is the only Connecticut-based school in this year's tournament. Photo Credit: NCAA

There may be no Connecticut Huskies in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but there are still plenty of ballers in the Field of 68 that call the Nutmeg State home. 

Most notable of the players is Steven Enoch, a redshirt junior on the Louisville Cardinals. 

Enoch, a native of Norwalk, actually played his first two years of collegiate hoops with UConn before transferring out of the program in 2017 due to differences with former coach Kevin Ollie. Nowadays, Enoch’s imposing 6’10” frame is an important part of Louisville’s big man rotation. 

It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride for Enoch, who didn’t even play varsity basketball until his junior year at Norwalk High School. However, he vastly improved the summer before his senior season, becoming a four-star recruit and playing at a prep school before moving on to UConn, where he struggled to find his footing on some tumultuous Husky teams.

Even with a strong effort from Enoch, who had 14 points and seven rebounds, No. 10 Louisville lost 86-76 in the first round to No. 7 Minnesota, coached by Richard Pitino, son of former Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

Tremont Waters, a sophomore guard on third-seeded LSU, is a New Haven native that is the heartbeat of the Tigers. Ironically, Waters and LSU dueled with Yale (the only Connecticut-based team in the tournament) in the first round on Thursday afternoon and won, 79 to 74. 

Other Connecticut natives include Isaac Vann of Bunnell High School in Stratford, who is a key cog for Virginia Commonwealth after transferring there from the University of Maine, and Aaron Wheeler, a reserve forward for the third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers. Wheeler is from Stamford and will be in Hartford for the early rounds of the tournament with the rest of his Boilermaker teammates.

Another notable Connecticut native, though not from southern Connecticut, is Mike McGuirl, a sophomore guard from Ellington that plays for the Kansas State Wildcats. Unlike the rest of these players, McGuirl received significant experience as a freshman in 2018, when he and the Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight. It should be an interesting journey seeing which Connecticut native can help their team get the furthest in this year’s tournament. 

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