Things were looking pretty dire a couple weeks ago, when I last looked over the state of Washington Husky basketball. So, how are they looking now?
Well, for starters, there are conflicting reports out there about Noah Dickerson’s future. People are saying he’s still weighing his options, but from the look of the Husky basketball twitter page, I see he’s been involved in some off-season program work under coach Hopkins. So, we’ll see, I guess. There’s no way the fate of next season hinges on Dickerson’s staying or leaving – the Huskies are still bound to be pretty terrible – but it will mean the difference between being bad vs. one of the worst teams in the entire country. At least with Dickerson and some of the holdovers in the fold, we should be able to stay in some games anyway.
In other news, considering most of the erstwhile Romar recruits have gone on to other programs, what’s Coach Hop doing to further this program right now? Well, for starters, he got local product Michael Carter III to switch from the University of San Francisco to the University of Washington. Carter is a shooting guard who has had a recent growth spurt (up to 6’5 now) and has really buckled down on his game. I have no idea what that will translate to at the Pac-12 level, but I don’t think we’re talking about a superstar here. He’s anywhere from Unranked to 2-stars coming out of high school, so obviously there’s work to be done. I think, best case scenario, he develops slowly over time, to become a big contributor as an upper classman. I’d say the better his outside shot, the better his chances of playing right away as a Freshman. Dear lord, please tell me he has an outside shot!
I like that he’s coming in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. It’s served the Seahawks well, anyway. But, here’s a guy who couldn’t get a shot with a major conference basketball team – hell, not even with the Cougars! – who now has his life turned around thanks to this coaching change at Washington. There are no delusions that Carter can even hold the jock of Michael Porter Jr., but that’s not really the point right now. He’s someone who wants to be here, right now that has to be enough. As Washington fans, we’ve had a pretty crappy last few weeks in the wake of Romar’s firing, with guys wanting out. It’s nice just to have a couple guys who want to come in. Carter sounds like a kid who will come in, fight hard, compete, and if he puts in the work, should develop into a nice player for us down the line. So, I’ll take it.
The other recruit we were able to snag was Nate Pryor, who had committed to Seattle U back when Cameron Dollar was still their coach. As Dollar has since returned to the Huskies in an assistant capacity, this was a no-brainer. Pryor is a 6’1 point guard out of West Seattle and appears to be a prototypical floor leader. Again, though, we’re not talking about a guy coming over from a major conference team; this is a case of the Huskies targeting some local guys Romar had passed over in favor of some more athletic and talented options.
What that doesn’t tell us though is who will be better. Obviously, high school scouting is an inexact science, but more often than not 4- and 5-star guys end up being worth the hype. That doesn’t mean that guys like Carter or Pryor are destined to stink, but it probably does mean the learning curve is greater, and that they might not make a big impact on the program until later in their careers. The question we’ll always be asking ourselves is: will Coach Hop get more out of guys like Carter and Pryor than Romar would’ve gotten out of guys like Porter and Davis? In Year 1, you’d have to think Romar would’ve had the edge. But, considering those guys were likely to be One & Done, maybe in the long run Carter and Pryor pan out? Or, shit, maybe the Huskies still would’ve stunk with Porter and Davis this year; the point is, we’ll never REALLY know. But, we’ve got the next four years to speculate.
In Erstwhile Romar Recruits news, apparently Jaylen Nowell hasn’t made a decision on where he’ll be playing basketball next year. Which means, technically, he’s still a Husky recruit. And a pretty great one at that. 4-stars, 6’4, out of Garfield High, with a quality dribble drive, but some work to do on his outside shot. I’m not holding my breath on this one, but it would be a real boon to the program if we could get him to stay. Particularly considering WSU recently hired his old high school coach to be an assistant over in Pullman. I could see that committment flipping anytime now, which would be a real drag. It’s one thing to lose the Porter Brothers to Missouri and their dad’s new sham assistant coaching job, but to lose a highly-rated Seattle kid to Wazzu? I mean, is there any coming back from that?
From here, it looks like the Huskies need to get one big man to round things out (two big men, if Dickerson decides to jump ship). Pickin’s are pretty slim, this late in the recruiting period, so again, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot. Let’s just hope Coach Hop and Co. are better able to recruit big men than Romar was. For my own sanity, if nothing else.