Big news on the recruiting trail, as Jaylen Nowell decided to maintain his committment to the University of Washington. He’s a 4-star guard out of Garfield High who is the only one out of Romar’s final (5-man) recruiting class before he was fired.
I’ll admit, I had my doubts on this one. I thought it bode pretty poorly that A) his high school coach was recently hired by Wazzu to bolster their assistant coaching staff, and B) Lorenzo Romar himself was hired to be an assistant with the University of Arizona. Oh yeah! Did I bury the lede on this one? Lorenzo Romar is with the Wildcats, as the rich get richer (side note: his contract apparently pays him $400K per year).
To be fair, with the prior stories coming out that even after Romar had been fired, he was still encouraging players to stick with the University of Washington, in the ultimate Good Guy move to end all Good Guy moves, it seemed unlikely that he would subsequently try to poach Nowell. And, also to be fair, we have no idea Arizona’s level of interest in a player like Nowell. Maybe they’re stuffed to the gills with 4-star guards! I have no idea and I refuse to do any research on the topic. Nevertheless, there was always the outside chance that Nowell would’ve been so smitten with Romar that he would’ve followed him wherever he went. It’s just nice to see the University of Washington and Coach Hop have at least a little sway in the community.
I find it terribly interesting how this Romar to Arizona thing plays out. He is, if nothing else, a boss recruiter, and I’m sure all those relationships he’s built with future recruits will MORE than translate. I mean, if he was close to getting some brilliant 2018-and-beyond recruits to come to Washington, imagine how much easier it’ll be for him to convince them to go to a place like Arizona! As a Husky fan, it’s gut-wrenching, because I think this sets up the Wildcats to be even better than they already would’ve been (as it stands, they were always going to be at or near the top of the conference). I think this puts them in the conversation to make the Final Four and be a HUGE juggernaut in the years to come.
I also wonder just how long he is for a place like Arizona. You’re talking about a guy with significant head coaching experience. If he’s this quick to stay in the game he loves, that tells me he’s still got the hunger in him. In which case, I’m sure he’s itching to get back in the hotseat somewhere, to control a program his way. What an opportunity like this affords him is that he’ll be able to write his own check, so to speak. Say what you will about his last few years at Washington, there’s no denying he was able to get some very high-profile recruits to play here. Now, imagine you’re a higher profile school like Texas or UConn or Florida or something. I’m just picking names out of a hat here, but imagine you’re a bigtime university who wants to be a bigtime basketball program (or you’re a recent basketball power who fell on some hard times). If you hire Romar, it’s going to be MUCH easier for him to recruit those 4-star & 5-star guys than it was for him at Washington. He won’t need to make deals with the Porter’s Fathers of the world to get incredible talent. When you tack on a successful short-term stint at Arizona, where he can point to bigtime players he’ll be able to help bring in, it’s going to be all that much easier for him to get a very high profile coaching gig. And that’s saying nothing of the man’s character, which is his obvious primary selling point. So, watch out for bigtime programs going through some NCAA troubles in the coming seasons.
The obvious ultimate destination for Romar is UCLA. He was an assistant coach there in the early 90s, and while their current head coach, Steve Alford, has taken them to the Sweet 16 in three out of four years, the Bruins obviously have higher asperations. Can you imagine Romar’s recruiting power if you gave him that job in Los Angeles, California? I’m telling you, it will be a sight to behold.
As for Nowell, this really softens the blow after the exodus following Romar’s dismissal. Pair him with Crisp and Thybulle in the backcourt and you’ve got something there. Again, this doesn’t diminish the fact that the Huskies have little-to-no depth – particularly in the front court – but for now I’m just going for them to not be collosal embarrassments. Anything resembling the Huskies being a fun team to watch in Year One I’m going to consider a success. Anything beyond that is something out of my wildest dreams. Baby steps with the new regime. They get a hearty KUDOS from me in getting a very important local player to stay local. Add him to the other two guards we brought in, and it looks like we’re more than set in that end of the court. Now, bring in a big man or two, and convince Noah Dickerson to stick around, and I might even allow myself to dare to dream!