What does it take to bring in top-flight talent into a college basketball program? Top-flight talent.
In other words, if you’re starting where the Huskies started when Lorenzo Romar was hired, you’ve got a VERY daunting task ahead. But, thanks to him, we had a big influx of talent. And he took that talent and turned it into more talent. And now he’s continuing the cycle.
A 4-star recruit, Nigel Williams-Goss, just declared that he will sign with the Huskies in their 2013 recruiting class. In the Seattle Times blog post I read today, he’s attributed to this quote:
They have a track record of sending a lot of pros through the years …
Which got me to thinking. That’s true! That: is a true statement! You’ve got Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas, and soon to be pros in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross. Those are eight guys who have had (or will have had) extended periods of time in the NBA. But, how good are they really?
Nate Rob has the most experience, having played in 448 games, winning multiple Slam Dunk contests. But, he’s an old man by basketball standards, being a 7-year pro and all.
Brandon Roy probably had the greatest NBA career (or, at least, he was the best of the bunch in the NBA), but he suffered chronic injuries and was forced into early retirement. Plus, for as great as he was, it’s not like he was a flashy, me-first type of guy. He was never one to grab the glory, so for the most part the country as a whole didn’t pay a lot of attention to him (compared to other superstars who shall remain nameless).
Hawes, Brockman, and Pondexter have all had nice little careers, but they’ve been role players at best, and bench-warmers at worst. No 4-star recruit comes to college with a dream to one day play 3 minutes per game in the NBA. They all want to be the Next LeBron, or the Next Kobe, or whatever.
IT, on the other hand, is doing what none of those other Huskies have been able to do. He’s young – having just completed his rookie campaign. He’s awesome – having made a real case for Rookie of the Year. He’s getting all the right kinds of publicity – starting as a rookie at point guard, with his size, etc. He’s one year removed from the college program that helped make him a star – the same college program that just featured two guys who are pretty much guaranteed to be First Round draft picks in the upcoming NBA draft.
When high school guys talk about the Washington Huskies as a program that “sends a lot of pros through,” they’re talking about Isaiah Thomas. He’s the cocky underdog, a fighter with a sass-mouth that can back up all his shit-talk on the court. And even though he plays for Sac-town, he’s always going to be a Husky. He’s always going to be an asset to the program (just like Wroten and Ross will be assets, even if they didn’t exactly lead us to a title while they were here).
Washington has a reputation now. We’ve always had a reputation, but now we’ve got a GOOD reputation. We’re a program who has seen elite guys come and go. We’ve got a head coach who has made NBA players out of raw, unsculpted Play Doh. We’ve got a community in the 206, 253, and 425 that continues to come back home and remind the world there are some elite basketball players playing in the Pacific Northwest.
And the better IT does as a pro (not to mention all the other guys mentioned), the better the University of Washington is going to do as a program. We will never be lacking in guard talent, I’ll tell you that for free.