Analysis: How former UConn stars turned NBA rookies fared in 2023-24 regular season

The 2023 NBA regular season has come to a close, and for the former UConn stars turned rookies this season, it was a bit of a mixed bag. All three will continue playing, as Andre Jackson’s Milwaukee Bucks earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and Jordan HawkinsNew Orleans Pelicans and Adama Sanogo’s Chicago Bulls reached the Play-In Tournament.

Still, now is a good time to take a look at how things went in the regular season.

Here’s a look at how each of them fared, and what to expect going forward:

Jordan Hawkins
1st Round, 14th overall
Games Played:
Per Game:
7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 38.2 FG%

High Point: Nov. 6, 31 points vs. Denver. Hawkins was getting some serious playing time early in the season, and though his career high of 34 came on Jan. 13 against Dallas, his 31-point effort against the champs came right in the middle of a hot streak that saw him playing like one of the best rookies in the league. Through his first 15 games, Hawkins was on an historic 3-point pace for a rookie, and ranked third on’s Rookie Ladder. It appeared as though he’d be an impact player for the Pelicans this season, but that changed as the team’s regulars started to return from injury.

Low Point: You could argue that getting sent down to the G League in late December would qualify, but returning and sitting on the bench hasn’t been awesome, either. In March, Hawkins averaged just 6 minutes and 2.1 points per game– and shot just 26.7 percent from 3-point range as he couldn’t get up enough attempts to ever get into a rhythm. It’s also unlikely he’ll see many minutes in the playoffs.

Outlook: This season was not truly indicative of what Hawkins can be as a pro. When he was given a green light and early-season playing time, Hawkins showed that he can be a prolific scorer and 3-point shooter, though he did struggle with consistency. But on a squad littered with backcourt depth and fighting for playoff positioning, he didn’t get much of a chance to make an impact. It’s almost enough to make you wonder why New Orleans drafted him in the first place. Restless fans might wish for a trade, but short of that and/or roster moves that clear up a spot, Hawkins will have to work on getting stronger, shoring up defensive shortcomings, and improving the non-shooting parts of his game to make a run at more playing time next season.

Andre Jackson Jr.
2nd Round, 36th overall
Games Played:
Per game:
10 minutes, 2.2 points, 2 rebounds

High Point: Jan. 13, vs. Golden State, 10 points, 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. Milwaukee Bucks fans fell in love with Jackson for all of the reasons UConn fans did– his relentless energy and tenacity, his jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism, his Niels Bohr-level basketball IQ, and his defense. Even in sparse playing time, Jackson had plenty of highlight-reel moments this season, from ridiculous dunks to hustle plays that made others look like they were standing still. There’s a whole section of Bucks Twitter that would love to see Jackson get more run.

Low Point: ‘Doc Rivers doesn’t like rookies’. That was the refrain as Jackson’s minutes diminished after Rivers took over as head coach, and it seemed to hold true. After logging 20-plus minutes six times through the first 43 games of the season, Jackson didn’t see 20 minutes in a game again after the veteran coach’s appointment. He averaged just four minutes per game in March, playing in garbage time in just four games total.

Outlook: Jackson has earned fans in Milwaukee, and Rivers praised the rookie’s intensity, athleticism and professionalism. It seems as though Jackson fills a need for the Bucks, who struggled with finding a defensive identity and with doing the little things needed to win. He’s shown enough in flashes this season to warrant being a part of the plan going forward. There’s no doubt NBA teams would be thrilled if Jackson could develop a more reliable jump shot, but the rest of his skill set seems tailor-made to fit in as a rotation player on a winning team, given a little more experience.

Adama Sanogo
N/A, signed two-way contract
Games Played:
Per Game:
7.3 minutes, 4.0 points, 4.0 rebounds

High Point: Friday, April 12 vs. Washington, 22 points, 20 rebounds in 35 minutes. Sanogo saw action in just eight games with the big-league Bulls this season, almost all of it coming in garbage time. But when he finally got the chance to play extended minutes in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player showed what he can do. His 22-point, 20-rebound performance in a 129-127 win over the Wizards wouldn’t have come as a surprise to Huskies fans, or those who watched him with the G League’s Windy City Bulls. Still, it was easily the best performance of his NBA career so far.

Low Point: It’s hard to choose a specific low point for Sanogo, who spent most of the year tearing up the G League and a small number of games sitting at the end of Chicago’s bench. He didn’t see any NBA game time in October, November or February and played just once in March. When he did check in, he did what he’s done his whole career– score points and grab rebounds.

Outlook: It’s going to take more of those big-time performances for Sanogo to convince NBA personnel that he’s capable of helping a team on a consistent basis. Sanogo did everything head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls asked of him and more, but it’s hard to know whether or not he’s in the team’s future plans. He averaged 20.4 points and 12 rebounds for the Windy City Bulls, and has proven he can compete at the highest level. He’s not going to grow three inches from his 6-9 frame or suddenly take on an athletic four-man’s body, but showing off his strengths and continuing to work on lateral quickness and athleticism, as well as that 3-point shot he showcased at UConn, could give him a chance in the future.