Washington Husky Huddle for August 11th 2011

Aug 11, 2011, 1:24 PM

Recruiting season for the class of 2012 continues to grind towards the fall signing period in November, while the UW team’s season does the same. The Husky Haul’s Jeff Taylor did a piece on Friday titled “Recruiting and Retention for Lorenzo Romar at UW”.

Taylor postulates that based on the past (though some of the examples he cited were kind of fuzzy), Romar’s recruiting classes are likely to thin out considerably due to attrition. The point by Jeff is well taken, but it is something that goes on all across the country. A recent set of features in Sportsillustrated.com attempts to explain this.

One of those features talked about guys who commit publicly, but then change their mind in a fashion that is painful for fans to endure. Former UW verbal commit Terrence Jones, from the class of 2010, was names as on the “10 most devastating” by SI.

The truth is that a lot can happen to young kids in their teens and early 20’s, especially in such a competitive arena. Medical problems, legal problems, academic problems, personal problems (homesickness, girlfriends, pregnancy, etc. can derail a kid after he signs and is already on campus.

Then there is playing time, or the perception of a kids’ “handlers” or parents that a player should be playing more or in a different role. There is always the possibility that a kid could be persuaded improperly to transfer to a school that somehow coerces them by promises of money, playing time, better media exposure or whatever.

That problem doesn’t seem to have happened at UW much when kids are already on the team, but in the smokey realm of the recruiting world, I believe it has weighed in with kids that have been interested in UW, but moved on to other schools in suspicious fashion. Jones is a prime example.

This is the time of year when commitments start popping right and left and kids start planning visits in the fall with their finalists, before making a decision. As far as UW is concerned a number of kids are in the mix for the spots that will be available for the fall of 2012. Senior guard Scott Suggs and senior post Darnell Gant will open up two spots.

There also could be spots that open up by a player deciding to enter the NBA draft early, as has happened to Romar teams with Doug Wrenn, Nate Robinson, signee Martell Webster, Spencer Hawes and most recently Isaiah Thomas. There are three
probable candidates on the 2011-12 roster, though every one of them dreams about it from time to time most likely.

Sophomore guard Terrence Ross is one, though as I talked about in my last “Husky Huddle” feature on July 31st, he has a good amount of work to do to be a viable NBA shooting guard. He has the potential right now and the leagues GM’s draft on
potential regularly, but Ross could demonstrate better team defensive skills and show more of an ability to draw contact.

Freshman guard Tony Wroten is another player that could be “one and done” and probably could be drafted on potential as well. Tony will definitely benefit from a lot of work on his outside shooting. To succeed in the college game Wroten must learn to pass the ball in a fashion that befits the player he’s passing to.

Tone’s ability to pass is at another level and in the NBA a lot of what he does would translate better, but to be successful at the D1 level, he needs to make passes that make sense for the kind of players he’s directing them to. Both Wroten and Ross would likely benefit from this year and next at UW, but that could change as the season plays out.

Wroten also was chosen on Thursday by Bleacher Report as one of the top-6 freshman point guards for 2011-12. Tony was listed behind Myck Kabongo of Texas, Marquis Teague of Kentucky and Josiah Turner of Arizona. I believe that Wroten is probably better than all three of them. Shooting is the only thing keeping Tone from being a top-5 pick.

Junior guard Abdul Gaddy is the last of the UW guys that stand a pretty good chance of playing their way into the NBA this year. Gaddy needs to do more than either Tony or Terrence, plus Abdul must prove that his health is on firm footing.
Gaddy has a great sense of team play on offense and defense, but looks a bit slow on defense at times.

Abdul makes up for it with his superior size for a point guard, but at the next level there are a lot of big, tall PG’s. To entice an NBA GM to draft him in the 1st round, Gaddy must get faster laterally and also show that he is capable of penetrating to the rim and (like Ross) drawing contact.

At worst UW will lose two of these three star guards, at best the Dawgs will lose none. I’d say that it would be prudent of Romar to plan on losing one. So that makes three spots to fill until spring, when we’ll know for sure who is leaving, transferring, etc.

Though there are only two spots open technically, do not be surprised if Romar signs three kids this fall. I would also like to speculate that it is more likely that UW will sign only two of even one, as there could be major motivation for the Dawgs to leave room for a 2013 class that could be really, really good.

November signing period 2012 is a long way away though. The important question today is which 2012 kids are still in play for Romar and his staff? I think it’s safe to say that wing Demarquise Johnson is a possibility, as Husky Digest’s Jason McCleary tweeted on Wednesday that “Que” will visit Montlake on September 24th.

For (by far) the best insight to Husky Hoops recruiting and team news, always go to huskydigest.com for your news and analysis.

The Huskies signed the son of a former NBA star and local hero in frosh post Shawn Kemp Jr. this summer. According to a Wednesday tweet from Mark Knight of Husky Haul, “2012 Sam Cassell Jr. will be taking an official visit in the next month to UW”.
Sam Cassell Sr. faced Kemp Sr. (as a Seattle Supersonic), while a member of the Houston Rockets, in Western Conference epic playoff battles in the 90’s.

Husky Haul on Thursday did a full story on Cassell’s interest in the Dawgs. Highlights of the story are that UW’s biggest competition for Sam Jr. may be Butler and that “Paul Fortier is really going after Shabazz Muhammad, the number 1 recruit in 2012”. Muhammad has not been mentioned as interested in UW too much, but this could be something to watch this fall.

Knight was my guest on “Talkin’ Hoops” on Monday, as we talked about the summer league at NSCC (he was there at the time), the Pac-12 and UW recruiting.

Another 2012 player that is looking seriously at Washington is post Richard Peters of Phoenix AZ. I’ve talked to Peters on numerous occasions and though he has stated that Washington is his leader a number of times, he has been less willing
to talk about his recruiting lately and has told me that other teams are in the picture.

Numerous publications have reported that 2012 post Zena Edosomwan has a Husky offer and 2012 post Chris Obekpa and 2012 guard Jaylen Beckham have told me that UW is one of their top favorites, but recently said that UW has not called him in “months”. 2012 wing Jordan Tebbutt is another player that has liked UW for a long time and is still listing them.

Tebbutt will play at the famous Oak Hill Academy in Virginia as a senior. Another post player that is a possibility for next year is Zach Banner from Kent WA, though Banner is likely going to play football and would not be available until after football (likely after the holidays if the upwardly mobile Dawgs go to a bowl game).

There are other prospects including 5-star post Anthony Bennett (who listed UW in his top-10 schools on Tuesday), post Isaiah Miles of Maryland, post Skylar Spencer and many more that are mentioning the Dawgs. UW could sign a guard and a post in the fall to make up for Suggs and Gant and then another player or two in the spring if spots open.

They may also leave a couple of spots open for a 2013 class that is looking as if ti could be the best ever at UW and by far the best in the Pac-12 with a little break here or there. There are so many names to discuss as far as 2013, that I won’t get too far into it, but UW is clearly in play for three of the top ten players in the country.

Those kids are wings Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon and guard Jabari Bird. Guard Isaac Hamilton is a top-20 player in ’13 and a number of other highly rated kids are right behind him in the rankings including PG Nigel Williams-Goss, wing Stephen Domingo, guard Jahmel Taylor, guard Matt Jones, Torren Jones and many more.

The future looks bright in 2013, but things can change and probably will in recruiting, so the drama continues. The present doesn’t look bad though for UW either though, as the NCAA Sanctioned Summer League continued with many current Dawgs taking part on Monday nights at North Seattle CC.

On August 2nd the games on Monday became such big news that Yahoo covered them on their national college hoops pages. It made headlines as a team including Isaiah Thomas and UW junior post Aziz N’Diaye beat Wroten and Ross badly 77-52.

Part of the reason for the spotlight was a twitter battle between Wroten and Thomas where the match-up was presented as a battle between Seattle and Tacoma. This doesn’t bode so well for UW, who will miss Thomas, but it shows that Wroten sure shows a flare for the dramatic. Though they loss, both Tony and Terrence made a number of highlight plays of note.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times was at the game and covered it in his blog on August 2nd. Allen talked about how Gant could have made it a much more even match-up. Seattle U star guard Sterling Carter was also on the team with Thomas and N’Diaye and though no one talked about him being a factor, from what I’ve seen I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.

“The Black team could have used fifth-year senior co-captain Darnell Gant and it would have been interesting to see the 6-8, 230-pound forward against N’Diaye.”

Allen also had nice things to say about red-shirt freshman Desmond Simmons and frosh post Martin Breunig. N’Diaye was a force on defense, according to Allen and had his way with Kemp and freshman post Jernard Jarreau.

“The Black team had trouble generating easy points and scoring in the half court while N’Diaye had little difficulty dunking whenever he wanted against Kemp and Jarreau thanks to Thomas who constantly fed him with assists beneath the rim.”

Griffin Bennett of Montlake Madness also did a breakdown of the game on August 2nd in which he looked at most of the UW players individually. Bennett was particularly impressed by freshman guard Andrew Andrews, as a number of observers have been, myself included. Griffin even questioned the plan that Andrews had revealed to take a red-shirt year in 2011-12.

“I don’t know what Romar is thinking by asking this kid to red shirt before practice even starts. Double A is impressive as both a ball handler and as an off-guard. At the very least, Romar should allow the point guard battle to last until the season ends before declaring anyone as a red shirt. I don’t know if this situation is based on promises or conversations that happened during the recruiting process but Andrews has too much skill to be forced to sit on the bench all season long. I can’t wait to see how this situation plays out.”

Bennett, like Allen, also had good things to say about Simmons and Breunig. There was a YouTube clip of the first few minutes of the game. There was also a highlight clip on YouTube of the same game.

Monday there were a few less participants, but this time Wroten and Ross’ team was beaten by a team led by WSU junior PG Reggie Moore and Utah transfer Aaron Dotson. There was a YouTube Highlight clip done for that game by Husky Haul.

Gaddy talked to Husky Haul on Monday and told Mark Knight that he was “100% healthy). Gaddy also mentioned to Knight that Andrews “is a lot better than anyone really thought” but that Andrews “still might red-shirt just because of the depth at the guard position”.

On Tuesday Todd Dybas of sportspressnw.com did a piece on Gaddy’s comeback trail and how Abdul will be looked at as one of the potential leaders of next year’s squad. The general consensus of observers is that UW should have to take a step
back from three straight Pac-10 championships after losing four major contributors, but Gaddy feels that they can repeat.

“The last two years we’ve won the Pac-10 (tournament) championship. We don’t want to lose that because we lost Isaiah, we lost Matt (Bryan-Amaning), Venoy (Overton) we lost Justin (Holiday). We have to keep going. So everybody has to be on the same page.”

Leadership is a huge key to the 2011-12 Dawgs, whether it come from seniors like Gant and Suggs, neither of which have played that role much in the past, Gaddy or even Wroten who could emerge as a leader like Thomas did as a freshman. Aziz all of a sudden is also an upper class-man and shows signs of being a team leader.

Aziz plays hard all of the time, much like former Husky star post Jon Brockman, though the seven footer is a very different type of player. Brockman was undersized, but created scores with deft low post moves and the occasional pull-up jumper. N’Diaye is the biggest guy on the court and a defensive giant, but is a work in progress on offense.

Both guys are remarkable in the way that they never stop and always go hard. Aziz is doing what he can to lead this summer by example, as he plays hard and physical despite the lax summer vibe at open gyms and these summer league games.

On Monday N’Diaye told Allen in the Times that he is doing so for the young guys own good, in a full length interview.

“That’s what it’s going to be like. If you expect it’s going to be easy, then when the season starts you’re cheating yourself. It’s not going to be easy. They know that. When I’m out there, I’m just playing the game. Trying to win and get better.”

Aziz also said that Kemp is “going to help us through the season”, which I agree with based on seeing the two go at it this summer. One player that is going to be expected to do more than just “help us” is Ross who is getting a metric ton of off-season hype in the national college hoops press.

Last Thursday Ross was chosen by Rivals as one of the “Breakout backcourt players of 2011-12. Rivals talked about Terrence pairing with Abdul this season and pointed out how well Ross did in the closing stages of last season.

“Rated as the No. 48 prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, Ross made four starts as a freshman and came on strong down the stretch. He scored at least 13 points in four of his last five games, including a 19-point outburst in an NCAA tournament loss to North Carolina. Ross averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 17.4 minutes as a freshman. He should team with Abdul Gaddy to form a dynamic backcourt this season while helping the Huskies withstand the early exit of second-round draft pick Isaiah Thomas.”

Though Rivals’ Steve Megargee didn’t list Wroten as one of those breakout players, Tony should fit in well in between Gaddy and Ross. In a YouTube clip from Jamal Crawford’s Seattle Pro-Am League last Thursday Wroten was featured a number
of times doing the incredible.

Others shown in this clip were former Dawgs Spencer Hawes, Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Tre Simmons, Crawford, Tony’s aunt Joyce Walker and Tony Sr. The 2nd half of this must see clip for Husky fans showed footage of the summer league game at NSCC on Monday, including Tony getting knocked hard to the floor by Aziz. Wroten was showboating a bit on the play.

Kemp was the subject by Yahoo in a blog post on the national college hoops site that drew praise as a human interest story from around the message boards and from fellow journalists on twitter. The story told of Shawn Jr. growing up in the shadow of his dad’s semi-infamous name and the ridicule that it often brought.

What makes this story special is that Jeff Eisenberg really brought out the positives of his mothers self respect that gave him strength and the growth of the relationship with his dad and the legend came to grips with his demons and repaired his family.

Andrews is another example of a kid that “going to help” this season, whether or not he plays in games. Many who have seen Andrew play wonder why he would red-shirt, as there are things about his game that appear to be better developed
than both Wroten or Gaddy. I think it makes sense for Andrew to sit, as having him for 4-years will pay big dividends.

The Husky Haul’s Ryan Knight last Thursday agreed with that thought. Knight talked about UW’s depth at the position, but I thought of something else. Because Andrews is around 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, he is less likely to be pulled to the pros
and could be the next Conroy, a guard that puts up huge career numbers and lead multiple Husky teams to many, many wins.

Another thing that Knight didn’t mention was that Andrews will be able to help a lot in practice. If something unforeseen were to happen and Andrew needed to play because of injury, etc. He still could burn his red-shirt for the sake of the team. Had Andrews been there last year it would have been nice to have him available with the problems that Overton had.

No word on what is happening with Venoy’s struggles with the law, but Holiday appears to have landed on his feet after a difficult last half of his senior year at UW. According to sportando.net Justin has signed with a Belgian pro team.

Holiday was not selected in the NBA draft, but finds himself in the unique position of being able to sign with a top level Euro club at a time when NBA players are signing with overseas pro teams right and left. Holiday should have an opportunity to show his stuff against high level competition and possibly attract NBA attention.

Meanwhile NBA players are stuck in a tough spot. I’ve spoken to a few guys that work on the business end for NBA players and there is a lot of talk about signing with overseas clubs, even in the face of threats from the NBA. Former Dawg
Brockman talked extensively to Kevin Calabro of 710-ESPN Radio on Wednesday on the lock out and his thoughts on this years team.

As a freshman Jon and then senior Mike Jensen, along with undersized offensive machine Jamaal Williams formed a very effective front line. Jensen came out to perform at one of Crawford’s Pro Am league games on July 31st. Jensen played for
the same squad as Crawford, Simmons and NBA star Terrence Williams according to seatownsports.net.

Conroy was also featured in a YouTube clip from the Seattle Pro Am, this time as a player, on July 30th. The legendary Brandon Roy, Aaron Brooks, former Dawg Anthony Washington and others were shown. Hawes has a much bigger look, as he gets older. Spencer is not fast and his new size fits his game well. Think Arvydas Sabonis as a younger player.

A third video trailer of the documentary titled “Hometeam” on Crawford’s Seattle Pro Am League featuring Wroten and more of the same was released on YouTube on Thursday. A key section of the video shows Crawford driving around Seattle saying that “Hometeam” started as he and Conroy, then added Roy and that the next member is the youngster “Tone”.

The St. Louis game next year has a few sub-plots. First of all it will be the return of Romar, who coached there prior to his tenure at Washington from 1999–2002. Second Suggs will be treated to a free trip to his home town and given an
opportunity to play for friends and family.

The third reason is for Romar to square up in a coaching duel with the legendary Rick Majerus, who led Utah to the championship game in 1998 behind future NBA star Keith Van Horne, where the Tues lost to Kentucky. sadly on August 1st
Majerus the AP reported that Rick was recovering from heart surgery. I sincerely hope that he comes back strong.

Finally Romar was mentioned by the Morning News Tribune as one of the top-2 highest paid state employees along with Husky Football coach Steve Sarkisian. No surprise at all, which reminds me of an obscure Iggy Pop song, “Take Care of Me” from 1979. C’mon Lorenzo, “I’ve done my best, now you do the rest”.

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Washington Husky Huddle for August 11th 2011