I was standing in the shower yesterday, thinking about where the Huskies were going to find another scholarship or two for next year’s team. All 13 scholarships were full and two of the better unsigned prospects out there, Terrances Jones and Ross, have the Huskies on their final lists. It’s possible neither signs with the Dawgs, but it’s looking increasingly likely that one or both will (knock on wood). And that would mean one or two current players would have to leave the team or vacate a scholarship in some other way.
In my mind, the top candidates were probably Clarence Trent, Scott Suggs, maybe Tyreese Breshers or somebody. A younger guy with some talent who hasn’t broken through yet, who might be nudged out gently or decide to try to find more playing time elsewhere. Elston Turner fits the description, but I figured that after his mini-breakout to end the year, he’d be expecting big things and stick around. Less than an hour later, I got in my car and the first thing I heard was a KJR update saying Turner had decided to transfer.
So, there’s one scholarship open. There might be another departure to come, depending both on those recruiting decisions and the feelings of current players as they get deeper into the offseason. For now, let’s take the opportunity to look at the roster as it currently stands.
Quincy Pondexter- F/G: Quincy is obviously a huge loss. He was one of the best two or three players in the Pac-10 last year, and had an all-around game that was adaptable and reliably excellent in every form it took. He will certainly be missed, for both his talent and the steadying influence he provided as a senior. Still, I got the feeling at times that Quincy’s presence played a part in the early mental struggles the team showed. He was cast as the senior leader and captain, and I’m not sure the rest of the team ever saw him that way. It became pretty clear to me down the stretch that Isaiah Thomas was the real sole and leader of the team, and it’s possible that the team might gel a little quicker next year with him as the focal point. Still, any argument that the team is better for Quincy’s absence is ridiculous.
Elston Turner- G/F: Turner was the most likely guy to step into Pondexter’s shoes as the swingman type who could provide some scoring. He showed those huge flashes of a good all-around game at the end of the season, but I wasn’t convinced that would carry over to next year, and now we’ll never know. Turner’s comments regarding his transfer were pretty revealing, as he said that he felt this team was keeping him from showing his all-around game, that he had been cast as only a long-range shooter and needed to leave the team to escape that. That may or may not be the issue, but if it is, count me skeptical that he has that game and that he didn’t have the opportunity to show it here. If you have a good all-around game and can show it, you’re going to play anywhere and especially with the troubles this team had last year and the absence of Pondexter next year. It’s possible he really breaks out, but I don’t think it’s a huge loss. I’m not sure he’s ever more than a good role player, which is valuable but not terribly hard to replace.
Isaiah Thomas- G: There’s no need to say much about Isaiah, but I felt he made huge strides toward the end of the year. It was clear early on that he was working on rounding out his game and was having some growing pains in doing so, but by the last 8 games or so everything came into focus. Expect him to cut down on the turnovers and become more consistent next year. I expect the ’10-11 team to take on his identity as a tough and dynamic team.
Abdul Gaddy- G: No player disappointed more last year than Gaddy, but it shouldn’t have been surprising given his young-for-his grade age and the fact that freshman point guards not named John Wall or Derrick Rose frequently struggle. Still, there were flashes of brilliance, and I expect this offseason will do wonders for Gaddy, especially if he uses it to find a jump shot. I think he’ll be one of the best points in the Pac-10 next year, and in the country the year after that, if he’s still around.
Venoy Overton- G: There’s no reason to expect Venoy to take a step back next year, like I thought he did a bit this year. His defense was still flashy but not always solid, and his turnover problems were always just a dribble away. Even with his flaws, he’s one of the most important players on his team, providing that intensity off the bench that kicks the team into gear. There’s no reason that will change. It’s also possible that he smooths over some of his flaws as a senior and becomes more consistent, which would probably be the biggest improvement this team could receive.
Justin Holiday- G/F: Holiday is another guy where you know exactly what you’ll get: suffocating man-to-man defense, hustle, adequate offense. There’s a chance that offense will take a step up next year. I have a hard time seeing him as a go-to guy, but he can definitely be a bigger threat.
Scott Suggs- G/F: Scott Suggs had a weird year. Before the season, I thought he was more likely to transfer than see meaningful minutes. Then games started and it was like watching a totally different player. He took some of Turner’s early season minutes, but eventually he seemed to hit a wall in his improvement while Turner became a minor star in the span of about two games. Entering next year, I don’t have any idea what to expect. He could transfer. He could get buried on the bench. He could improve some more and be a great guy off the bench or even take Quincy’s starting spot. He needs to be more assertive consistently and not fade into the background when he gets minutes.
Clarence Trent- F/G: Forgive me for being skeptical that Trent will ever do anything on the basketball court for the Dawgs. I was excited when he went out for football, but that lasted about three practices. He’s extremely athletic with a good body, but that’s all we’ve seen so far. I personally expect it to stay that way and would not be surprised by a transfer at some point. Hopefully he proves me wrong and can turn into at least a Bobby Jones type, if not that good.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning- F: He’s probably the key to next season. If he can continue as the same assertive scorer, defender, rebounder and shot-blocker he ended last season as, he’s a Pac-10 first teamer and this team will go far. If he can’t, we’re all very familiar with that player. I’m betting he’ll dominate.
Tyreese Breshers- F: I remember seeing Breshers for the first time in that first exhibition game and being very excited. He couldn’t be stopped down low and was surprisingly athletic. I told several people that he’d be starting as soon as he was in shape. I’m not sure he ever got in shape, or if he did, it was about the same time the long season caught up with him. If he can increase his stamina, there’s no reason he can’t be everything I thought he would be. He looked slightly clueless at times and fouled too much, but that was likely at least partly due to his inexperience and health problems. I don’t expect him to start or be consistently dominant next year, especially with all the big bodies it looks like the Dawgs will have, but I think we’ll see a lot of improvement from Tyreese.
Darnell Gant- F: Oh, Darnell Gant, the forgotten man. It took me a good couple of minutes to realize he was missing from this list. That’s about how his season went. After providing a solid complement to Jon Brockman, his style didn’t mesh so well with this team and he found himself buried on the bench at times. He provides athleticism, decent defense, and a usually solid baseline jumper, but really he needs to get better at everything. He needs to rebound better in particular and play with a little more intensity at times. Can be a solid back-up, but might be a candidate to transfer.
C.J. Wilcox- G/F: Wilcox redshirted last year, so I can’t claim to have seen him play. By all accounts, he could have probably played some decent minutes and might have the best three-point shot on the team, especially with Turner now gone. Going into last season, I got the impression that there wasn’t a lot of difference between Wilcox and Turner or Suggs, but given the depth of that type of player, Romar decided to redshirt him to space out the classes a little. We’ll wait and see what he can do, but he’s a definite candidate for minutes.
Desmond Simmons- F: An incoming freshman typically listed as a power forward, Simmons is a long 6′ 7″. It sounds like he’s not a banger, but is reportedly a good shooter who can play some small forward. Sounds like the typical Romar recruit: athletic, long and lean, can do a lot of things. I don’t honestly know a lot about him, but he’s in a lot of top 100 national lists and I’ve seen him compared to Bobby Jones. Should play some right away, I would think, depending on who else comes in.
Aziz Ndiaye- C: Aziz just signed and is a player unlike any we’ve seen in a Husky uniform in my memory. An athletic 7-footer from Senegal by way of an Idaho junior college, Ndiaye (pronounced EN-jie) sounds like a Mutumbo type, raw offensively but can run, patrol the paint, and knock some guys around. On the other hand, his juco coach says he’s not your typical African center, so I’m not sure what to expect. He sat out this year to heal from an ACL injury, so he will have three years to play three. He sounds like a perfect fit for this team, but whether he can reach an impact level, who knows. I’m looking forward to finding out.
Terrence Jones- F: Another lean long guy who can play either forward spot, but Jones is 6′ 9″ and a top 10 national recruit on most boards. He would be the biggest get since Spencer Hawes for the Dawgs if he were to commit and get into school. From what I know, he’s a slasher type with a good all-around game and a tough defender, who can also score down low. Again, I don’t know very much and haven’t seem him play hardly at all, but I can’t picture a more perfect player for Romar’s system and next year’s team. He would likely step right into Quincy’s spot and then be off to the NBA the next year. He’s reportedly still considering UW, Kentucky, and Oregon. Tough to beat Kentucky, but the rumors sound promising for the UW.
Terrence Ross- G: Ross and Jones were former and current teammates in Portland, although Ross moved to Maryland for a year. I know even less about him than I do about Jones, but he’s a 6′ 5″ shooting guard with a great shot and good range. Grades are reportedly a bit of an issue. He’s a consensus top 100 recruit and a some places have him much higher. Here’s a Montlake Madness post with a little better info on the players and situation. Ross is also considering some big name schools.
So there you have it. The 2010-11 Husky basketball team will be made up of some combination of these players. It’s possible Romar could sign another recruit if neither Terrence commits, but I would bet on it happening closer to the season, or possibly an incoming transfer. He might choose to just leave it open as well, like this past season. If both Terrences commit, someone else must go off scholarship, whether by transferring out or paying their own way for the year. Ross and Jones have said they’d like to play together, but won’t go to the same school if it’s not the best fit for each of them. I have a feeling that if one comes to UW, they both will, but that’s only a hunch. They’ll both announce before the end of the month, so we’ll know soon enough.
It’s a good roster. More versatile with Ndiaye coming in, although I wouldn’t expect huge minutes out of him yet. Potentially more explosive if either Terrence comes. And more experinced, both individually and as a group playing with each other. We’ll have more analysis as the season gets closer, but we’d love to hear questions or thoughts in the comments.