Seattle U looks improved

Oct 27, 2010, 2:28 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Seattle U starts the year with a number of the key players intact from the 17-14 team that surprised the hoops world last year. In their 1st year of a full D1 schedule the Redhawks won more games than any independent in modern times.

From that team, junior guard Cervante Burrell, senior guard Garrett Lever, junior wing Aaron Broussard, junior post Gavin Gilmore and senior post Alex Jones make up a full line-up of proven veterans.

That group is made up of guys that all had big games last season in what was a team made up of no-names in a sense (other than departed “one and done” Charles Garcia), that just outplayed their opponents as a team. Of all of the stories in college hoops last year, theirs was one that was hardly noticed on the national scene but worthy of praise.

Coach Cameron Dollar was able to add some important pieces to improve his team in the off-season and appears to be continuing to have an unusually large presence on the recruiting trail which bodes well for the future.

Those 5 will be helped greatly by frosh guards Freddy Wilson and Sterling Carter, both formerly of Franklin High School in Seattle. Wilson played at elite Westwind prep in Arizona, while Carter went to Pacific on a full ride, but did not play as a freshman. He is now listed as a frosh with Seattle U, which means he was probably awarded a medical red-shirt year.

Freddy and “Sporty” were important pieces of Franklin’s machine like success over the course of their careers. Other guards to play at Franklin in recent times are NBA stars Jason Terry and Aaron Brooks, UW’s defensive gem Venoy Overton and Louisville starting point guard Peyton Siva and these two certainly bring with them a winning attitude.

Mark McLaughlin is an elite level recruit who committed to WSU, before signing with Nevada, then was released after then Wolfpack Coach Mark Fox took the Georgia head job. He finally signed with Elite-8 program Baylor, but decided to return to Seattle to be close to his new baby.

After watching Seattle U play early in the year, Mark decided to commit, but had to petition the NCAA to avoid sitting out a year. He had enrolled at Baylor, but not practiced or played any games, but won his appeal and will start this year as a Freshman.

Mark is a big physical guard at six-foot six and 195 lbs. and is very skilled both in his shooting and ability to get to the rim and create space in the paint. Jarell Flora is a six-foot-three 180 lb. guard who created quite a stir in the Washington State high school ranks for Bremerton High School.

Taylor Stevens is a big six-foot-seven 230 lb. junior forward from Marysville WA, that played a couple of years at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene ID. Stevens is known as a solid shooting big man, but I was most impressed while watching workouts last week by Chad Rasmussen, a six-foot-seven 200 lb. sophomore forward from Tacoma CC.

Chad was just a lights out shooter, with great form that day and is definitely one to watch. I would not be surprised to see Rasmussen play a lot minutes with that ability to score from distance. The last scholarship player on the Redhawks is another kid that looks like a solid contributor in six-foot-seven 220 lb. sophomore forward Brandon Durham.

Durham, who like Flora is originally from Bremerton, played one year and sat one at lane College in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Durham is a sturdy looking athlete who can bang in the paint and work the glass. Though Gilmore and Jones were the vets, in the drills I saw Durham looked to be on their level already, with possibly a little more athleticism going for him.

Dollar’s team play aggressively. They rely on team speed, discipline and patience. This team is better, from what I could see on paper than last year’s. They don’t have the big gun in Garcia, but do have McLaughlin, Rasmussen, Durham, Wilson and Carter, which seem to be plenty of talent to replace what is gone in Chuck and last year’s senior class.

Cameron will have to work these guys hard to get them ready for a very challenging schedule, but the raw material is there and his system is one that I think the kids are buying, so it would not surprise me to see this year’s model equally a surprise.

Next year, the Redhawks will also have UW transfer Clarence Trent, a super athlete and more than likely two other new recruits. According to ESPN, Tre Hale-Edmerson of Sheridan OR has committed to Dollar and his staff. Tre is a six-foot-seven 210 lb. post.

From early assessments of his game, it appears that Tre is more of a shooter than a low post threat.

Seattle U held an intrasquad scrimmage this past Saturday, but the teams were divided to be even, according to Dollar. Starters have yet to be named.

Husky Huddle

Romar was not pleased with what he saw in an early scrimmage of his team when he talked to the Seattle Times Percy Allen.

“We know what we have on paper. You hear what the people are saying and where we’re supposed to be, but today we don’t look like what people think we’re going to be. We got a long ways to go.”

Allen said that Romar, “Is pleased with the how players are boxing out when going for rebounds and said the Huskies are a better shooting team than past teams at this point in training camp”, but added that Lorenzo said that players need to “understand the importance of a stop on defense and offensive spacing”.

On the positive side, Romar said that Desmond Simmons was back to full speed, but that Venoy Overton was still being kept on the side lines. I spoke to Venoy at length on “Talkin’ Hoops” on Monday night and he spoke about practices, his off-season and the coming year.

These positive predictions that Lorenzo referred to keep piling up, as two of four in the Rivals/Yahoo “College Hoops Roundtable” picked the Dawgs to win the conference. David Fox picked Arizona, while Jason King picked UCLA, though both mentioned UW in doing so. The general consensus seems to be that the Dawgs will be at or near the top.

Fox then contradicted himself in Rivals by picking Washington to win the league in his Pac-10 preview. Isaiah Thomas was chosen to the 5-man 1st team, while Matthew Bryan-Amaning was picked to the 2nd team. Justin Holiday was chosen as the league’s “Most underrated player”, while Kent WA’s Josh Smith was once again picked to be the frosh of the year.

I’m not sold on Smith, based on off-season reports from open gyms and workouts down in LA. There are a number of other kids that will see more playing time and be a bigger part of their team’s focus than Josh from what I can gather, so I would think that projecting him as that big of a success in his 1st year is somewhat bullish.

Allen picked Washington in his preseason Pac-10 prediction explaining that, “This is probably the most complete Huskies team since the 2005-06 season”. Although I would agree with most of what Allen gave in his picks, I feel that the Oregon State Beavers are getting underrated again this season. Percy picked them 9th.

I would put the Beavers in the top 4-7 teams along with ASU, WSU and USC. I know that is pretty non-committal of me, but I will make my own picks in the next blog post here.

Doug Haller of AZCentral.com made his picks for the Pac-10 this season.

Haller also picks OSU 9th and Washington 1st, as did Don Ruiz of the Morning News Tribune. Jon Wilner of mercurynews.com picked OSU 8th and UW 1st, as did Bruce Pascoe of AZStarnet.com.

I guess I’m on an island here, but I think that the Beavers are going to be better than Oregon, Cal and Stanford and compete favorably with USC, ASU and WSU. We’ll see who ends up stranded here.

A highlight video from Youtube paints a very positive picture of the current state of Husky Men’s Basketball, regardless to Romar’s concerned comments.

I agree with Romar that much work obviously needs to be done, but the talent is there without doubt to work with.

Isaiah was chosen as one of the nations “Ten Best Returning Players” by Bleacher Report and deservedly so in my opinion.

“The junior was arguably one of the best performers in the NCAA Tournament last year, averaging 15 points and six assists in three games.”

Romar has mentioned that Desmond is a player that leads in deflections, a very important category in his system and that in general Dez is doing a lot of the little things that add up for him.

“We keep track of deflections – in our defensive scheme it’s very important. (On Monday) He was at the top of the charts with those. We do a plus-minus system every day with practice, trying to evaluate the things that we hold our hat on: rebounding, taking charges, getting the loose balls; but on the flip side: missed box-outs, negative assist-turnovers. We weigh them out, and he was on the plus side. That doesn’t happen very often with freshmen.”

Simmons spoke to Don Ruiz of the Morning News Tribune on Tuesday.

“In high school, we had a high demand for defense as well. We had some of the same principles (as at UW), so it’s not too hard for me. There is definitely a differentiation from high school defense to college defense, but high school helped me out a lot.”

UW walk-on point guard Antoine Hosley talked at length about his decision to come to UW after numerous scholarship offers in the Seattle Times. He also spoke about his relationship with former UW 2010 commit Terrence Jones and current UW guard Ross.

Hosley is in the right place, if he wants to learn to play the point guard position. He mentioned what he learns from all of the other guys. If Hosley sticks it out for a couple of years, he could be in a position to earn some quality PT.

My concern is that UW will lose Wroten after one year, which will coincidentally the same year Isaiah graduates and Gaddy’s junior year. If UW loses Venoy, as well as those three, in the next two years, having a guy who understands the system could be a major asset.

Speaking of Ross, Mike Miller of NBC sports feels that Terrence is, “The early favorite for Pac-10 freshman of the year”.

“The 6-5 guard should thrive thanks to Huskies point guard Isaiah Thomas, who excels at driving the lane and dishing to open teammates around the arc. That’s perfect for Ross, whose best asset is his sweet stroke.”

Former UW guard Ryan Appleby just produced a shooting instructional promo video for youtube that is even more impressive than his ball handling clip.

Husky Recruiting Corner

Rivals released their updated team recruiting rankings and the Dawgs dropped a few notches to #20, based on other teams landing new commits.

The same thing happened to the ESPN list, which dropped UW to #21.

Husky fans need not worry about things as trivial as recruiting rankings services, as Tony Wroten made a strong statement at the Clash of the Classes event in Beaverton OR on Saturday. Tone was a man amongst boys in the game and was head and shoulders above the competition. Oregonlive.com did a highlight video that really demonstrates how good Wroten looked.

Oregonlive also did a Highlight reel that showed some outstanding plays by 2011 UK commit Kyle Wiltjer, 2011 Oregon commit Brett Kingma, 2011 Gonzaga commit Gary Bell, 2012 UW commit Andrew Andrews, 2012 UW recruit Anrio Adams and many more.

You can watch the whole game at IHigh.com or see an interview with Andrews and his highlights as well.

Wiltjer denied the reports that he was looking at decommitting from Kentucky in Rivals. It certainly looks as if he has decided to stay with John Calipari, after Husky Digest reported that he looking around, according to numerous sources.

Those reports were further confirmed by sources close to Kentucky and a couple of other well placed sources, but also that Wiltjer was no longer wavering. Husky Digest is sticking to it’s story that Wiltjer wavered and was looking around.

In Rivals, Kyle’s dad Greg said, “I was thinking about expectations, and probably on a scale of 1 to 10, all three of us probably rated it an 11 because it definitely exceeded what we expected on all fronts”.

Everyone loves Kentucky once they go there because John Calipari runs such a “Magical place” where people (that are of use to Calipari) with any kind of problems, be they financial or otherwise, leave with a huge smile on their face. It’s kind of like Disneyland in Lexington, a place where dreams come true.

Why so many people say such bad things about Calipari is a huge mystery.

An AAU team mate of Wiltjer’s on the Oakland Soldiers is Kiwi Gardner, who has expressed sincere interest in Washington.

According to a tweet from TheRecruitScoop, Gardner has “reclassified into the class of 2012, according to Gary Trousdale”. Westwind Prep’s site spoke more about Gardner.

“Freakishly quick, Gardner plays with urgency every play. Tremendous ball skills whether in traffic or open court. Can defend bigger, stronger and athletic. Best defender I’ve seen in years. His presence on the court makes everyone better. Explosive 1st step. Can score in traffic. Has solid range from beyond the arc. Plays with reckless abandon which is a plus now but will need to tone it down at the MM-HM level. Have had 2 Pac 10 coaches tell me could be in same category as Jerome Randle.”

Canadian 2012 UW prospect Anthony Bennett got some nice ink from Rivals in their profile of his school, Findlay Prep in Henderson NV.

“(Bennett) is a bruiser on the interior. He’s long-armed. pretty explosive off the floor and doesn’t mind trading elbows. He’s most effective as an energy guy but he looks like he’s working hard on his skill level and he’s showing promise facing the hoop.”

In the same piece 2012 UW recruit Winston Shepard was also mentioned favorably.

“A rangy guy who likes to handle the ball and attack in transition, he’s got some game that is reminiscent of Julian Wright at the same age. When left open, Shepard squared up and knocked down a couple of threes and a 15-footer from the left side.”

2012 UW forward recruit Danny Powell was given a nice write up from coast2coast which continued to portray him as a hard working, physical kid that does the dirty work.

“Powell is one of the best pound for pound players in the state. The 6 foot 6 wing never takes a play off. He really is one of the best sleepers in the country. He can score inside or take it out and shoot from the perimeter. I really enjoy watching this talented student athlete.”

According to tweet from highmajorscoop 2012 UW wing recruit Negus Webster-Chan, “Has interest from Louisville, Ohio State, UNLV, Cincy, UK, Iowa St, Washington, Clemson,LSU, WVU & Pitt.”

It was earlier reported that Washington was off his list, which now appears to be in question.

2013 UW guard recruit Nigel Williams-Goss was spoken of highly by Rivals.

“He loves to utilize a floater in the lane whether going right or left, shoots it and is a smart player. The Portland native plays both the one and the two for the Pilots.”

2013 UW post recruit Aaron Gordon was the subject of yet another youtube highlight reel, this time one that focuses on his ability to dunk.

2013 UW wing recruit Stephen Domingo got more good ink from Rivals.

“We’re not sure what position he’ll be at the next level, but he rebounds and passes the ball at a high level and can knock down the 3-point jump shot.”

Pac-12 Round Up

Stanford’s Dwight Powell was the subject of a full length feature in Rivals. Powell will be asked to help a Cardinal team that is attempting to rebuild a front court that needs help. Andrew Zimmerman was able to surprise some last year and will need help in an improved Pac-10 as far as big men.

Cal’s Max Zhang’s college hoops career is over, according to niubbal.com.

Max will play for the CBA’s Shanghai Sharks. it was already known that Zhang would not play at Cal to start the season, but this puts an end to the speculation that he might return.

One team that looks to be much improved is UCLA. Don MacLean, the all-time leading scorer in Pac-10 history, wrote a very optimistic look at the Bruins for Foxsportswest.com which painted Smith as a very important puzzle piece.

According the LA Times, the conditioning coach of UCLA, Wes Long has done a great job of conditioning on Smith, as well as a number of others.

The Bruin tradition is great with the legacy of John Wooden, but it is also well known in recent years for it’s condescending tone. Bruinsnation.com wrote a feel good piece for UCLA fans that argues that this past year’s team, which finished 14-18 and lost badly to a number of low to mid-majors in non-conference play, is going to be a distant memory.

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that Smith will have as big of an impact as most, while I do feel that Honeycutt is going to be a major story. While puff pieces like this talk about Malcolm Lee in glowing terms, I am less sold on him having much better of a year. I do think that Lazeric Jones will help at the point though.

Overall I see UCLA as a better team that will gain from much improved play by Honeycutt (though his health is an issue) and the addition of Jones, but also must replace Mike Roll and Nikola Dragovic. I believe that Reeves Nelson is going to be a great one, but I see Smith as being a back-up for him at best, rather than the #1 inside scoring threat, as some feel.

UCLA will be deeper and improved overall, but not enough to win the league. I see them coming back to the NCAA tournament, but not to the Pac-10 championship. Again, I’ll explain my Pac-10 preseason predictions in greater length in my next post.

According to the LA Times, Coach Ben Howland is pushing the tempo in practices and freshman Tyler Lamb is “the most ready of the new freshmen to play defense”.

You be the judge yourself. Scout filmed the Bruins in warm-ups and you can see for yourself what the UCLA guys are looking like.

Malcolm Lee never did transfer, as Husky Digest reported that he was considering doing, if he wasn’t projected as a 1st round pick last year, according to sources in the LA area. He did sound a bit frustrated with Howland being able to see what’s best for the personnel of the team, when speaking to the LA Times about picking up the pace.

“It fits us real well, just with our guard personnel, our athletes and I think Coach notices.”

Unfortunately for Ben, he’s between a rock and a hard place. He can’t keep guards and athletic players happy with his slow it down, grind it out pace, but he centers his recruiting on bullish power big men like Josh Smith, “Bobo” Jamison and Reeves Nelson. While watching the Scout practice film, I thought that Stover looked more able to run up and down.

Howland can’t have it both ways, or can he. Can he run Honeycutt at the 4, Lee at the 3, Lamb at the 2, Jones at the point, while one of the bigs just takes his time getting back and run an effective fast paced game 4 on 5? That’s as questionable as keeping recruits and current players from being turned off by the grind it out, wait for the big guy style of play.

‘Zona fan site pointguardu.com did a detailed piece on the ‘Cats who should also be one of the top teams in the league.

The Arizona Scout site also did a feature on the same scrimmage and also agreed that freshman Jordin Mayes stood out.

I feel that Arizona will be better than they were last year, despite the loss of Nic Wise.

USC is also a team that appears to be better than the hype. According to Coach Kevin O’Neill in the LA Times, USC is likely to start freshmen Maurice and Bryce Jones (no relation), along with veterans Marcus Simmons and the leagues best front court in Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson.

It’s hard to win with frosh, but when you add transfer Jio Fontan to this group, which also includes improved Donte Smith and you now have a pretty good looking rotation.

Depth up front is a concern, but if they can find some from either freshman Curtis Washington or sophomore Evan Smith, they could be as tough as they were last year when they caught fire in league play.

ASU gave a scholarship to walk-on guard Marcus Jackson, a six-foot-one 190 lb. Sacramento CA product that played very little last season. According to a blog post from AZCentral’s Doug Haller, it came as a complete surprise to Jackson.

NCAA Corruption

George Dohrmann’s book “Play Their Hearts Out” is a must read for anyone interested in game of basketball. I’m working my way through it in between all of my other work and it is fascinating. Every time I turn the page, someone who I know or have followed closely is referenced.

Ballinisahabit.net interviewed George in depth, which is also a must read.

The picture that the book paints is an accurate one, though I believe there is even more beneath the surface that the book;s loveable villain, AAU coach Joe Keller, effectively hid from Dohrmann in regards to the business end in my opinion. I’ll wait to finish the book before drawing any conclusions though.

Regardless, this book is a revelation and needs to be well known information around the sports world for any progress to be made.

Workouts that were not allowed by the NBA have been reported to have happened in Atlanta over the course of a number of years, according to Yahoo. To tie this is with the Dohrmann book, the guys that organized the workouts were former AAU organizers and brought the players in through those contacts reportedly.

According to Yahoo blogger Matt Norlander, the question needs to be asked in regards to the players that worked out, including Kansas star Brandon Rush, is how did these kids fly to Atlanta, other than of course by the means supplied by an agent?

According to KUsports.com Rush, “Did not tell the truth to his college coach or the media 31/2 years ago when asked how he suffered a devastating right knee injury that resulted in ACL surgery and six months of rehab”.

Can we call it what it is here people? Rush lied. Now he is hopefully going to tell the truth about who paid for him to travel (in style no doubt) to Atlanta for the workouts? I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to avoid having to talk, but this is exactly why the NCAA is so toothless.

They have no subpoena power to dig through financial records to find the truth. Hopefully the NBA will investigate and open that door. New NCAA President Mark Emmert needs to find ways to get the NBA to cooperate in his articulated efforts to fight corruption.

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