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College Hoops

Washington Husky Huddle for Monday April 2nd 2012 (Part Two)

I’ve seen Mark over the years, including the NWAACC 2012 title game and he is a good one. He averaged 27 points and eight boards and more importantly did a very good job of involving his team mates, playing defense and all of the “little things”. With Ross committing to the draft, I expect an announcement by Mark to be coming soon, probably for the Dawgs. I also sense good things in regards to filling Gant’s spot. To keep up to the minute on the Husky recruiting picture, always go
to huskydigest.com for the latest and most insightful news. Among quite a few names that are in the picture to help the Husky front court in 2012-13, are UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi, a starter and major contributor on last season’s national championship team. According to zagsblog.com on Sunday, Alex is looking at four schools for visits, one of them being UW, and has a solid relationship with Husky assistant Raphael Chillious who “coached Oriakhi at various Nike events and also on a trip to Brazil” before he went to UConn.

There are a number of others as well, including McDonald’s All-American Anthony Bennett. Add Bennett and/or Oriakhi to a rapidly maturing 2012-13 UW squad and the sky is literally the limit. On Tuesday Bleacher Report chose the Dawgs to be
part of next year’s NCAA Tournament, “Even if Tony Wroten is gone”. Losing Ross is not as tough as losing Wroten would be, as well. What Terrence brings is something that can come from big rangy wings like Suggs, McLaughlin, Jarreau and Wilcox. If he stays though, Tony will thrive in his role of attacking the basket. If UW gets help down low on offense, I would think that 2012-13 could actually be Romar’s best team ever. Jeff Taylor of Husky Haul put it well, when he spoke about his opinion of Tony’s decision at this stage.

“I think Tony Wroten is an NBA level talent. But, I think his game would be improved tremendously and his draft status much improved if he returned for one more season to the Washington Huskies. He might also be able to finish what he
started by getting the Huskies to the NCAA tournament and win Pac-12 Player of the Year next year.”

I’ll add to that by saying that improving his shooting and decision making at the same rate that he did over the course of this past season, should put him in the top-5 NBA picks. I think that Tony would be the odds on favorite to win the Pac-12 POY and that the Dawgs are likely to not only make the big dance again, but go far there with Wroten. Without him I feel that they will do well, but only by making moves to find help inside, will they get back to the top-20 nationally again. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said on Tuesday after working the telecast, “Ross should go and in my mind, Tony could use another year”. Franchilla added “I wonder if others are telling them that.”

Taylor asked if UW would be better off if Tony went pro on Saturday and I’ll answer that for him. Absolutely not. Wroten can’t help but improve on a season in which I would have to point to him more than any other single factor, as to why the Dawgs won the out right Pac-12 title. Tony is a gem of a talent and it is a win/win for him and UW, in my opinion, if he stays another year. Romar added other pearls of wisdom, when he spoke to the media after the game on Tuesday.

“When you’re talented enough and you have room to grow you should stay (in school) until you can come into that league and make an impact. I think you should stay until then.”

Lorenzo added, “You may spend some time in the NBDL or wait a couple of years before making an impact, then you may as well stay in school and get closer to your degree and be a little bit more ready to go”. Lorenzo even admitted something
that I was adamant about at the time, that Spencer Hawes would have benefited from one more year at UW. I thought that it was interesting that Romar brought that up, while discussing Wroten, but I think that Hawes is the kind of player that was even more likely to see the court in the NBA in his first season than Tony will. Wroten will eventually make it to the NBA in my opinion, but a guy who can either get to the hoop of get fouled, but struggles so much at the FT line is an NBA project, where as a seven footer who can shoot and pass on a lottery team is probably going to get PT.

Wroten will probably get picked by a team in the last third of the 1st round, should he decide to go into the draft. That is where the better teams are generally. They will want him to do a lot of work before giving him prime time minutes. He will be a big star next year in a place like Sioux Falls, Bakersfield or Boise next season, as the UW Daily’s Jacob Thorpe so eloquently stated on Tuesday. If that makes him happy, that’s fine, but I think that long term he would do best to stick around for one more year in Seattle. He will be a huge success I believe and he will be much more ready to take on his next big challenge.

The stakes are high, as an explanation of the finances from hoopsworld.com explains and I would not blame Tony based on the concern about injury, if he chose to take the money. I was particularly hard on Hawes, as I thought that he made the wrong decision, but his concerns for injury also had to play a role in that choice as well. I think that time has shown that Spencer did in fact make the wrong decision, but he’s landed on his feet. I feel that if Tony decides to go, he will likely feel a year from now feel that he could have benefited from one more year, but it’s anybodies guess as to what is actually going to be his call. Ross gave no clue at the press conference Sunday, when he announced his intentions, as to Tony’s.

“I talked to him about it a few times. When it comes down to it, it’s really all up to him and his family and what’s best for Tony.”

The news and scuttlebutt should be fast and furious for Husky fans, as they move closer to the NCAA deadline for Tony to declare on April 10th and the subsequent Spring Signing period. Something is going to happen and I have a good feeling that it will turn out well for the Dawgs, even with the sad loss of Ross. I think that Terrence will be drafted in the first round and be yet another UW/NBA success story, like last year’s Husky star guard Isaiah Thomas is fast becoming. On March 23rd basketballticket.com talked about Thomas being firmly in the 2nd slot in the NBA Rookie of the Year race to Kyrie Irving.

“Currently Thomas is sitting on the second rung of NBA.com’s Rookie Ladder. This is where he will likely remain, but after being drafted dead last, second best doesn’t look half bad.”

Also on March 23rd, thekingsblog.com took a much more in-depth look at the numbers and after doing so, Thomas’ case even looks better. Sactownroyalty.com also talked on March 23rd about how Isaiah makes the Kings a lot better team, aside from his personal stats. Last Monday a promo film on YouTube by the Kings was a nice touch towards giving Thomas some good PR. On Wednesday in a 117-112 loss to San Antonio Thomas exploded for 28 points and 10 assists. He followed that with a 19 point effort in a win at Utah on Friday and an 11 point effort in a loss to NJ on Saturday. Even when he doesn’t score much he is logging his assist numbers. On Sunday the sacbee.com ran a huge feature on Thomas’ growing presence in the Sacramento community and his wanting to be a bigger role model in his native Tacoma WA.

Things are happening in my career as well, not that you who follow Husky Hoops News would necessarily care and certainly not to the degree that they are for Thomas, but I will also be making some big moves this week. One is that this is my
last column for mynorthwest.com for the time being, after a very long and productive tenure. I was recently hired to co-produce a film documentary on the king of the Mississippi Delta blues harp, Sonny Boy Williamson. Because of that added commitment and a lot of additional traveling which I will be doing for that project, I have to limit my hoops activity to Husky Digest and my weekly podcast radio show “Talkin’ Hoops”, which airs live every Monday night at 8 p.m. (PST), but is always available by podcast.

I’m also very busy doing 150-200 dates a year (as I have over the past 15 years) with the Jim Basnight Band, solo and the NW Rivals, an all-star band of guys that I grew up with in the Seattle area. I’ll also be releasing a new CD, which I am currently about 45-60 days away from finishing. I have really appreciated doing this column, as well as Pac-12 Roundups for mynorthwest.com and I look forward to staying in touch with all of my friends in the hoops community.

Former Dawgs Doing Well

Justin Dentmon is in the midst of his 10-day NBA contract with the San Antonio Spurs and last Saturday JD played his first seven NBA minutes, which were captured in a YouTube highlight clip. Last Sunday JD played 12 minutes against Philly in a home loss. He did not see the court in Spurs games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The name Marv Harshman came up once again as WWU won the NCAA DII championship. Viking coach Brad Jackson models himself after the former Husky, Cougar and PLU coaching legend and it was great to see another Puget Sound Area hoops success story unfold. Jackson recently talked about Marv, who he played for at WSU in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when he spoke to the Seattle Times on March 20th.

“Marv is such a wonderful friend and mentor and I think he is one of the best coaches ever.”

One of the greatest hoops success stories ever from this area was George Irvine, who I was fortunate enough to interview on last Monday’s “Talkin’ Hoops”. George pulled no punches as he talked about the game, as it exists today and how it was
when he played. Irvine was a first team All Pac-8 player in 1969-70, then went on to play in the ABA for five years. When his career was shortened by knee problems, just as the ABA Denver Nuggets became an NBA franchise in 1975-76, he seamlessly started working as a coach in the NBA, followed by a successful stint as a GM and a variety of jobs scouting. He even coached AAU ball and had a lot to say about that world. This one is a must listen for anyone who cares about hoops, especially it’s local history.

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