Just after Cliff Robinson stood out in the Field House, before Ray Allen lit up Gampel Pavilion, before Richard Hamilton helped deliver UConn’s first national title, there was Donyell Marshall, the first prize recruit of the Jim Calhoun era whose national stature speeded the program’s ascension.
“A lot of people don’t know, except my mom, that after my sophomore season I almost transferred,” said Marshall, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers and about to enter his 13th NBA season. “I wanted to. I couldn’t take it anymore. But we decided it was best probably to stick it out. He gets on you so hard, but it’s because he wants you to be better. When you leave and come back, you understand it.”
Marshall returned last night to take part in the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game at Mohegan Sun Arena. As of Friday morning, about 1,800 tickets remained, according to Calhoun. The game, first played in 1999, and surrounding weekend festivities have raised more than $1.75 million for the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Research Endowment Fund at the UConn Health Center. It also brings together many of the best players from Calhoun’s 20 years, a collection of basketball success stories perhaps impossible if not for Marshall sticking it out.