Husky Bigs An Unknown Quantity?

Sep 12, 2010, 3:19 AM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Last year Washington was able to bring up the post players as a unit to effectively support Quincy Pondexter after they looked miserable early in the year. Matthew Bryan-Amaning became that third option that the Huskies needed to propel them into winning 14 of 16 games leading up to the Sweet-16 loss against eventual Final-Four team West Virginia.

In that run Matt averaged 11 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. Optimists around the UW program feel that Matt is going to move to the 4 spot, last occupied by Quincy and fill that role, while Aziz N’Diaye moves into the middle and benefits on offense from the double teams that Matt will draw, much as Matt did last year.

I feel that this is not something that UW fans should expect. Aziz may not be ready for that big of a role. He has been away from playing in real time for over a year and JC transfers always take a while, Tre Simmons for example in 2003-2005.

I say you’re looking at the veterans getting the nod at both positions. Matt at the 5 and Darnell Gant at the 4, with Aziz and Tyreese Breshers coming in to back up Matt, depending on situation and promising freshman Desmond Simmons and maybe Breshers (depending on how much spring his rehabbing body has in it) backing up Gant, should be how it settles out.

I have seen nothing that tells me that Matt is an everyday low post threat. If you re-watch the film and count the number of times that “MBA” scored on the low block other than when he out ran his man, it really only amounts to around twice a game. That is no proven low post threat.

If he can improve that markedly this season, UW is going to be in great shape, but I’ll wait for that to happen first before saying it is going to happen.

Yes, as a group UW could have a good synergy (thank you Paul in Missoula for a great word), but last year the main guy was Pondexter both in manufacturing easy baskets in close and rebounding. Everyone else was supportive at best.

Someone needs to prove themselves able to lead and be “The guy”. Until that player steps up its hard to predict that something great is going to happen for me, but there is good news worth being optimistic about.

Darnell Gant has demonstrated a great work ethic in the off-season. One observer said that his work ethic may be the best on the team in working on what he needs to both in skills training and in the weight room. If Gant can bring an improved inside scoring game and continue to gel in his mid-range catch and shoot, pick and pop game that would help a lot.

Gant needs also to get bigger to become the kind of inside force on the boards that he needs to be to command starters minutes again, as he did next to Jon Brockman as a red-shirt freshman. Another piece of good news is that Matt is working on his mid-range game. Just accepting that a problem exists is half of fixing it.

If Matt can provide some mid-range game, that would at least allow the possibility of moving him out to the 4 and opening up the middle for Aziz who if prepared could play an important role on the boards and defensively, as a number of UW optimists envision him doing.

Another good piece of news is that Breshers is in better shape. Just how well he has bounced back remains to be seen, but initial reports are that he looks a lot healthier and in shape. The last puzzle piece is Desmond Simmons who should push the vets for minutes with his hustle and competitive spirit.

Desmond needs to put on muscle, but he plays with a lot of fire and has a nice well rounded skill set to build an offensive game around. He kind of reminds me of Bobby Jones, with a little less of a chip on his shoulder and a more mature offensive style. That’s saying a lot, to those who can remember Bobby at Hec-Ed but then who ever had a winning attitude like Jones.

I agree that the potential is there, but as Coach Lorenzo Romar always says, ‘potential only means that you haven’t done anything yet’.

There’s no question that Bryan-Amaning has potential. A poster on youtube picked one of Matt’s dunks as one of the top-50 of all-time. I doubt the person who compiled it has the depth of knowledge of games history to really do that, as much of the clips were from the past 10-15 years, but its nice to see Matt get noticed as he should be.

Now if “MBA” can add a mid-range game and a better ability to pass out of the double team, he could start realizing all of those lofty predictions.

More Dawgs

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times released, without revealing his source, the start times for a large number of UW games all of which have not been posted on the UW Athletic Department’s official site at Thanks Percy for sharing this information.

Venoy Overton was mentioned by Purdue’s returning All-American forward Robbie Hummel as one of the top defenders in the nation at the 3:30 mark of this video clip of an interview from Fox Sports.

Isaiah Thomas is shown in a youtube video highlight reel back in sixth grade and its astounding to see how little has changed. Thomas was still the little guy on the court, literally toying with all the kids with his left hand and crossover just as he does in the Pac-10 and beyond.

Former UW star Nate Robinson had his jersey retired at Rainier Beach High School in a ceremony attended by among others Jamal Crawford and Hikeem Stewart. Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times posted a video of Nate’s acceptance speech.

Seattle U Releases Schedule

Cameron Dollar’s Redhawks will be sternly challenged once again in what seems like an insurmountable schedule for a team attempting to start their 2nd year at the D1 level.

Last year their schedule seemed like a recipe for disaster and Dollar and his rag tag bunch of unheralded recruits, one UW casualty and guys who originally signed on to play D2 ball did the unbelievable and carved out a 17-14 record. That mark was the best in many years by an independent.

Dollar told us on “Talkin’ Hoops” that he would like to break new ground and become a national power as an independent, but Lenny Wilkens said that Seattle U will probably join the WCC this year on the same show a few weeks earlier.

Who knows what will happen, with the addition of BYU to that league of Jesuit schools that have built a solid hoops reputation as a group, without having a football program. Seattle certainly is a better fit for that league than BYU, but obviously doesn’t bring the same established strength, aside from the legacy of the Chieftains of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

This year the Redhawks will start the regular season on the road at Maryland. The thought of an independent team in it’s 2nd year at D1 visiting an ACC powerhouse like the Terps is staggering, but Dollar obviously feels that this will serve to motivate his guys early. They will either be highly motivated or highly humiliated.

Other games that appear to be virtual land mines are a road trip to meet former WSU Coach Tony Bennett’s Virginia team which UW will also face in the 1st round of the Maui Classic, Washington at Key Arena, Stanford at Maples (where UW has won once in about 1,000 years) and Oregon State (who won’t be humiliated again I don’t think that severely) in Seattle.

The schedule is also packed with mid-major opponents from the MWC, WCC, WAC, Big Sky, Big West and a November contest with Navy. If Cameron can squeak out another winner with this schedule or more astoundingly improve, someone needs to give him a medal.

Husky Recruiting Corner

One prediction that is starting to look like it will become reality is the commitment of 2011 guard Tony Wroten to UW. Husky Digest predicted on Thursday that Wroten will commit and sign with the Dawgs, based on a mountain of reasons and accounts from sources with tremendous access to Tony.

In a live chat with Rival’s Eric Bossi and Kentucky blogger Larry Vaught, both guys felt that Wroten will pick the Dawgs.

They also felt that 2011 guard Jabari Brown looks like a UW lean.

Jerry Meyer at Rivals compared Jabari favorably with Austin Rivers and Bradley Beal, who have been considered to be the top two 2011 shooting guards by Rivals for a good while.

“Yes, Rivers and Beal are head and shoulders above the other shooting guards in the class. They both have complete skill sets offensively, are strong and athletic and have an advanced feel for the game. Brown shoots as well, if not better, than both Rivers and Beal, and is as physically as strong as both prospects, but Brown is not nearly as quick and athletic as they are.”

I disagree if Meyers is asserting that Jabari is not athletic. One comparison that I feel is deserved for Brown is former Seattle Sonic Mitch Richmond, stylistically. I am by no means saying that Jabari is that good yet, but in the way that he and Mitch play they are similar.

According to a tweet by Zagsblog Romar and staff did an in-home with Brown and family on Friday.

“Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar just arrived at Jabari Brown’s house for a home visit”

Tony continues to behave as if he’s still playing the field though, as he tweeted a response to a Louisville fan that he was going to visit later this month.

“22nd or 25th. RT @pyarber: @ToneTone13 when are you visiting Louisville?”

Wroten also confirmed in a tweet that UW Assistant Coach Raphael Chillious came to see him at Garfield on Friday.

Tony told us on “Talkin’ Hoops” that he was looking to visit the ‘Ville on the 22nd, which is a Wednesday. Perhaps the teenager forgot that it is a school night.

Whether he chooses to visit Louisville or not, all signs point to Wroten committing to UW, but you never know until the ink is dry and then you can not be completely sure. I distinctly remember the case of Doug Wrenn, who signed with UW, but then went to Prep school, thus nullifying his LOI. He then ended up at UConn.

Kind of tricky there with Wrenn, but I have a good feeling about Wroten playing this one respectfully towards the home team.

2011 UW guard commit Hikeem Stewart was mentioned prominently and favorably by Bossi in Rivals national recruiting Q+A feature.

“I’m a huge fan of what Washington just did in picking up Hikeem Stewart, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Seattle (Wash.) Rainer Beach. He’s currently No. 111 in our rankings but I think he’s a guy with huge upside and think he’s going to end up being a pretty important player for Lorenzo Romar when it’s all said and done.”

A class of Stewart, big man Kevin Davis of Tacoma CC, Wroten and Brown is looking very much a possibility for the fall signing period that begins in early November.

If all of those dominoes fall into place and UW fans should feel guardedly confident that at least the 1st three will and on the confident side of things that Jabari will be there as well, UW would be filled up at 13 scholarships committed.

2011 posts Angelo Chol and Norvel Pelle are still in the picture, as is 2011 combo forward Kevin Bailey and Seattle area guard Brett Kingma. Kingma appears to be most excited about Oregon, but is looking seriously at taking his visits to UW, ASU and BYU in the fall.

It appears to me that if Brown and Wroten commit that Kingma would then be out of the picture for UW based on pure numbers at the guard position. That leaves Bailey, Chol and Pelle. UW would not be able to know for certain whether Davis is going to get his AA degree before the fall signing period and finding a big man is a must for the Dawgs.

ESPN lists Bailey as being interested in Stanford, Washington and UCLA, while Scout sees him as a Stanford lean with UW low on the list. Rivals has no schools listed as favorites. A number of independent outlets have listed Bailey as having strong UW interest, so we’ll see. Kevin is smallish for a post player at six-foot-six and 200 lbs.

It appears that Chol and Pelle will both sign in the spring. Chol has confirmed that recently to a number of outlets and Pelle has not shown his hand much when it comes to recruiting, so it may be safe to assume that he is not close to coming down to a decision. Husky Digest has heard that he and his family are not anxious for him to commit this fall.

I think that UW signs four players in the fall and waits to see what happens in the spring. They could sign Chol, as a number of people think they will, go for Pelle or possibly wind up with another guy who becomes available to them, including a transfer.

In the climate of corruption that currently exists and the prospect of the NCAA taking action against some pretty high profile programs, a number of big name post players may be available come spring.

If Davis appears to be headed to getting that AA degree at that time and with the 2011 class being a poor one for bigs contrasted to the 2012 class which is long on posts, UW may stay put or even take the best available player, if they even have a spot open.

If they sign four in the fall they again will b e full, but Romar always seems to find a way to sign at least one more than the pundits think he can, so bringing in 5 in 2011 is more likely to happen than not.

On Friday Rivals reported about a new 2011 UW post recruit, that is just now listing Washington interest in seven-foot-one Deng Leek. According to Rivals, “Leek now has offers from Charlotte, George Washington and Alabama State” and added “WKU, Washington and Alabama are also in hot pursuit and could be close to offering”.

Leek is Sudanese like Angelo Chol. Could the Dawgs feature a pair of post players from the Sudan to fill the void left by “MBA” and to compliment Aziz N’Diaye?

An American post player that is climbing the rankings, as the class of 2013 become more of a known quantity is Maurice Kirby from Arizona. Washington is recruiting the six-foot-nine PF/C and Rivals couldn’t stop talking about his well rounded game.

“Kirby is improving fast as well, and has really improved his overall skill level from a year ago, so his upside as a player is tremendous. He also possesses a very good motor and plays with excellent passion for the game on both ends of the floor. Has excellent length of body and is still growing a great deal, so the sky is the limit with him. His offensive skills are still improving, but his willingness to compete on both ends of the floor and run the floor are attractive. Excellent shot blocker that also changes a lot of shots. Plays with a very good attitude on the floor. Big time future. Another elite high major prospect.”

Kirby didn’t make the list, but prephoopsassist put together a consensus top-15 for the class of 2013 and three UW recruits made the grade in #5 Jabari Parker, #7 Aaron Gordon and #15 Tyree Robinson.

Pac-10 Round Up

Utah was predicted by ESPN, as it has been by most, to be very sub-par for the once powerful Mountain West program that will start in the Pac-10 in the fall of 2011.

Doug Gottlieb picked the Utes 7th in the 9-team league.

“With only one of its top five scorers returning from last season, Utah has turned its focus to several freshmen and jucos. If they can bond quickly, the Utes have a chance to right the ship and finish much higher than this after a tumultuous past year. That’s a big if, however.”

Utah has a fan base for hoops though and being in the Pac-10 should help the Utes bounce back fairly soon. The area consistently produces good players and with prime competitor BYU going to the WCC, that should spell better days for Utah hoops.

According to what Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told the AP, Colorado is “worse than 50/50” that they can play football in the fall of 2011 in the Pac-10.

No word on what this has to do with hoops, but this news does leave that door open at the moment. If the Pac-10 has to play one season as the Pac-11 before becoming the Pac-12, it is hard to say how the conference schedule will go in 2011-2012. Perhaps the league will play a 20-game conference schedule with everyone playing Utah when they play their in-state rival.

According to Rivals on Friday, “UCLA will host a pair of important in-state recruits in the nation’s No. 10 player, Josiah Turner, and athletic four-star shooting guard Norman Powell”.

WSU is also hosting one of it’s top targets according to Rivals.

“Washington State is looking for big men in the class of 2011 and they’ll host Minnesota center Shelby Moats.”

Also on Friday, according to Rivals, “Back court commitments Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley will both be on hand at USC this weekend”.

NCAA Corruption

Bleacher Report’s Tom Smith did an analysis on what to expect from the NCAA in regards to UConn that was very pro-Calhoun.

I don’t believe that UConn has been generally clean like Smith does. I think that Jim Calhoun is one of the sneaky ones that has operated under the radar, as compared to guys like Rick Pitino and especially John Calipari who I believe have acted with less discretion.

Howland at UCLA is another guy like that from what I can gather. I believe that UCLA is playing it cool for awhile in hopes of avoiding the scrutiny of the NCAA, who are really making a concerted effort at the clean up the men’s game.

It will hurt Ben’s program in recruiting and consequently on the court, but I believe that the hope is that they will avoid being exposed, as they are so in peril of being, with the purge against Ben’s “Old friends” the Pump Brothers. My hope is that they don’t get away.

Kentucky’s “Magic” recruiting run hit a snag as 2010 signee Enes Kanter was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, based on responses from a Turkish pro team that determined that he was paid well into six-figures over a three year period. The AP reported that a handler by the name of Max Ergul has been in Kanter’s picture.

Ergul attempted to minimize the payments that were made to Kanter in living expenses and benefits that total at least #100K, according to the Turkish pro club.

“They paid the necessary expenses, like any other kid who goes to prep school and gets the $30- or $40,000 scholarship. I think that’s the truth.”

Regardless, it will be very hard for Kentucky to get Kanter’s eligibility reinstated. The NCAA moves very slow and though there could be changes in the rules when it comes to European kids, this situation doesn’t sound all that innocent, even taking into account some relaxing of the rules.

According to ESPN Ergul may just be another dishonest opportunist is the grand tradition of William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley and Sonny Vaccaro, the only difference being a middle eastern accent.

According to ESPN Kanter was actually paid a salary in his final year in Turkey.

“Karakas said the Turkish team provided housing for Kanter and his family for more than three years. It also gave him food and pocket money and paid Kanter more than $6,500 a month in salary during his final season.”

The Big Blue Nation is of course up in arms about this. Blogger Kent Sterling had to fend off poorly substantiated threats of liable and slander as well as attacks on his qualifications and character for asserting that the smoke building up around Calipari at Kentucky is just too great to be a mere coincidence.

Kansas, meanwhile, attempted to deflect away from the common assumption that Lew “Never Knew” Perkins left because of any probes.

Who knows if his getting out was intentioned or not, but it sure will be to his advantage if ongoing investigations reveal more corruption, as I believe they should in good ole’ corn fed, aw shucks Jayhawk country. The place has been a mecca for years of college basketball corruption and all while little innocent Lew sat in his chair in the AD office.

I’m sure he knew nothing about it.

Tennessee responded to an NCAA investigation into potential recruiting violations by reducing Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff’s salaries well into 7 figures. The key here is that money is no object.

A single home weekend in the SEC, along with all of the premium bucks that boosters pay for seating, parking, merch, concessions, TV revenues and of course ticket sales cover that pretty much.

Like I mentioned before in connection to an even more lucrative program in UT rival Kentucky, if they paid every player on the team $200K a year, that would be covered by a single weekend home stand.

Additionally, big-time boosters could just give Pearl and his boys the money and miss it like you or I would miss what it costs to pay a speeding ticket.

Pearl will additionally be unable to recruit off-campus for a full year, according to the official voluntary self-sanctions document that was released by the University of Tennessee.

This says to me that the NCAA found something real.

Response from around the media ranged from acting as if Pearl is worthy of pity, because of his help in nailing the Illinois staff 20 years ago in the Deon Thomas case. For that reason, it is OK for Pearl to lie to NCAA investigators?

I don’t think so. He and his staff, who all lied together I guess, may have realized that their lies were going to be discovered and were advised to come forward and admit it.

We’ll have to wait for the NCAA, who said that they should finish the investigation and be ready to take action in December. Lying is not OK to NCAA investigators. We are told that when we get thrown in prison for doing it in a court of law. We are told that when we are deported by the INS when we lie to border or immigration officials.

We are told that when we are fined and prosecuted for lying to the IRS. It should be a simple concept for a guy like Pearl who is making millions at his job and shouldn’t want to screw that up. The reason that this is not the case could very well be because Pearl may be guilty of major cheating.

I heard numerous accounts back about 5 years ago around the Ramar Smith recruiting, that something dirty was going on at Tennessee. Smith played for the Family in Detroit MI, an AAU team that I heard from numerous accounts had solid connections with Wesley.

Smith was a problem child at UT that was basically run out of town from all I could gather, despite his outstanding potential. When that happened I asked Where is “Wes” now for Ramar. where is Bruce Pearl? People like Pearl, Wesley and the rest were not there offering Smith any help with his drug problems or whatever it was that made him useless to them.

No one cried for Smith when he couldn’t cut it. They just kicked him out and said fend for yourself, from all I can gather after giving him the proverbial limo ride, including all that talk about his future in the NBA and how his life on campus in Knoxville was going to be a huge party.

Now I have to read some writer from ESPN, who need the ratings that Pearl’s crew has on their TV broadcasts to be high, that I need to feel sorry for him that he only lied which everyone does, but then had the uncommon decency to admit it. Dana O”Neill even went as far as to say that everyone cheats, just to different degrees.

“From what I heard from 20 head coaches this summer, no program is clean. It’s just a matter of what you consider dirty. Rules are broken every day by every coach. Some do it intentionally and deliberately, others tripped up by the convoluted nature of the rulebook.”

That is wrong. No one’s perfect, but someones innocent mistake or misunderstanding of the rules does not condone those that are expertly and and intently playing games with the truth and “Bending the rules”. Pearl and his program don’t seem to me to be one of the good ones and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the NCAA resolve this.

Sorry Bruce, as far as I’m concerned Ramar is more innocent than you to begin with. He was maybe 20 years old when you flushed him down your million dollar drain. You have a lifetime of this type of conduct in my opinion.

You helped bust the Illinois coach, which also coincidentally gave your Iowa team an advantage back 20-years ago, but it does not mean that it is OK to break rules or lie to the NCAA to this day.

Pat Forde at ESPN tweeted, “Tennessee slamming coaches in the wallet and in recruiting, trying hard to appear proactive and mitigate NCAA hit”.

If Pearl is guilty of cheating, hopefully by December we’ll see the NCAA give him and his staff the correct punishment. If they are guilty, based on what I believe the lay of the land to consist of, I don’t think these self-sanctions are sufficient, but doing nothing would have been way off the charts.

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