I did the bare minimum amount of research yesterday, which is pretty rare for me, I know. Mostly, this is just a forum for my random bitching and hare-brained theories. But, seeing as this is Husky Basketball Week, Monday brought us a broad recap of events in the season so far, Tuesday brought us my case for Andrew Andrews to be Pac-12 Player of the Year, and Wednesday brought us my overview on the rest of the 7-man rotation. What else is there really to talk about?
I’m not normally one who gets his jollies by keeping informed on college recruitment. Especially in football, but even in basketball, there’s a lot of downside to this practice. You’ve got highly-rated players who decommit, you’ve got highly-rated players who flame out, you’ve got guys who get injured, you’ve got guys who red shirt and you don’t hear about for a full year, and on and on and on. I couldn’t possibly imagine how one could keep his head straight with all the names and all the rankings and all the comings and all the goings.
The way I usually go about my Husky fandom is: I glean whatever I can from Twitter and sports radio and the like – not REALLY paying attention, but sometimes certain names and such seep in – and then I wait until the games are actually played, and wait for people to stand out. THEN, I’ll dig into them a little deeper to find out the story. That way, there’s no surprises. I’m not reading about an incoming recruit for six months, and then all of a sudden he decides to go play for Kentucky or something.
Did Terrence Jones ruin me on the recruitment side of college sports? Ehh, maybe it’s for the best.
Anyway, I wanted to take a look at who the Huskies might be bringing in for future classes. With the promise of this 2015/2016 season, and with the possibility that we can bring most of these guys back for at least a second season, I wondered if this would be a minor blip in an otherwise flatlining program, or if this could be the start of something major.
As a cool little quick reference, pull up this link and scroll down to the Basketball Recruiting Scholarship Chart. It’s got all the guys currently on the roster, what class they’re in, and some essential facts about them when you scroll over their names. It’s also got all the players who WOULD have been here, but transferred, or otherwise are no longer in the program. I mean, Jesus, just look at the rest of that senior class under Andrews; what a crap sandwich!
Then, over there, to the right of the Freshmen, you get our future commits, either verbally or the regular kind, as well as the players we have offers out to (you’ll notice them in the royal blue, or also known as: “medium interest prospects”).
You’ll notice for 2016, not a lot of names. That’s because, let’s be honest, Lorenzo Romar went hog-wild for this 2015 incoming class, so there just isn’t that much room. We’ll lose Andrews for sure, and beyond that, you just never know who’s going to transfer (maybe guys who didn’t get the playing time they thought they were going to get; or guys looking at their futures and wondering where the minutes are going to come from with more exciting prospects on the way).
The 2016 guys with offers don’t look to be all that amazing. But, the two guys who appear to be on their way to Washington certainly raise some eyebrows.
Sam Timmins is a 6’10, 250 pound center out of New Zealand, who looks like he could be the real deal. He’s in for sure. Only a 3-star prospect, but I feel like if he’s able to play right away – even off the bench at first – he’s going to REALLY help our depth among our bigs, while also help us tangle with the beefy center types on other teams (I know Arizona and Utah come immediately to mind as two teams who dominated us with their bigs, and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting). Pair Timmins with Dime, and you’ve got some shot-blocking maniacs. And, if he comes in with the type of skills on the block that they’re saying he has, it shouldn’t take him long to move up the ranks of quality centers in the Pac-12.
The real find is Markelle Fultz, a 6’5, 5-star guard from the D.C. area, with no ties whatsoever to the Pacific Northwest. I highly encourage you to read this post on what his committment means to the Husky program. I know it’s only a verbal committment, and like Terrence Jones, he could just as easily be swayed by a last-ditch effort from a bigger program. But, I’d like to think with the way we’ve been playing of late, and the renewed excitement for the Husky basketball program, he knows he’s coming into a good thing.
Obviously, there are downsides, like we know without a shadow of a doubt, barring injury, Fultz is a 1 & Done player, no question. It would be a waste of breath or finger strength to try to argue otherwise. But, the big upside here is that the Huskies are FINALLY starting to become a national player for big-name prospects.
THIS is where our patience with Lorenzo Romar has paid off, my friends. And THIS is where our patience with all the down seasons of late has paid off. Even though the Huskies have been struggling, Romar has still been able to mold college athletes into NBA players. The official list can be found here, ten players in a decade – most recently C.J. Wilcox – have been drafted, with a few others here and there cracking rosters. So, Romar has that pedigree. Also, not for nothing, but the stability has to be pretty nice. Romar’s in his 14th year, and to be honest, his recruiting skills are better than ever!
Also, this might be an underrated aspect that doesn’t get enough press, but I have to think that his being not only one of the few African American head coaches of a major college program, but also one of the longest-tenured African American head coaches, plays a pretty sizable role in developing relationships with some of the African American players he’s able to bring in. That combined with the fact that, by all accounts, Lorenzo Romar is just a fantastic human being, and I think Washington offers a unique advantage over most other schools in the country. Romar’s going to work you hard, but he’s going to reward those who buy in. He’s not going to stand there and berate you in front of thousands. And, probably most importantly, he’s not out there looking for the next bigger, more high-profile job. With guys like Calipari, or some of these younger coaches who recently flipped to a bigger school, you never know when the other shoe is going to drop. They have no loyalty to a program, and quite frankly, the programs don’t really have a loyalty to them. If a hot young coach goes to a bigger school and struggles, how long of a leash will he have before they cut ties and move on to the next hot young coach?
With Romar, like I said, you’ve got stability. He is Washington, and Washington is Romar. The fact that he’s doing some of his best work, 14 years into his time here, just goes to show he still has that fire, still has that desire to be great, and to see Washington be great. High school kids are going to pick up on that for sure. Once that’s ingrained, then it’s just a matter of Winning Begetting Winning. The iron is hot right now, so it’s time for the Huskies to strike. Enter: Markelle Fultz.
He’s an immediate replacement for the outgoing Andrew Andrews next year. Given his pedigree, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to match the type of production Andrews has given us this season. If Dejounte Murray sticks around for another season, with all the other players from this year carrying over, we are looking at an absolute MONSTER of a team for the 2016/2017 season. I’m talking about the Huskies picked to be 1st in the Pac-12, with a very good chance of the Huskies being ranked in the Top 25, even as high as the Top 10! I mean, shit, look at this lineup for next year:
- Fultz – G
- Murray – G
- Thybulle – G/F
- Chriss – F
- Dickerson – F
- Dime – F/C
- Crisp – G
- Green – G/F
- Timmins – C
- Dorsey – G/F
That’s a roster 10-deep, with equal measure defense and scoring. Guys who can shoot, guys who can dribble-drive, big men who can post up, big men who can hit the mid-range jumper. Granted, nothing is set in stone, but the hope is, if we can keep it all together, that’s the type of talent that can carry this program to the Final Four.
Where does that leave us for 2017 and beyond? Well, we’re a way out on that, but you figure the Huskies will lose Fultz and Murray, as well as Dime (who will have exhausted his eligibility). With the usual rash of transfers and whatnot, you might consider 2017 something of a rebuild.
But, looking back at that Verbal Commits chart, you can see we have a verbal from a 4-star recruit at guard, Daejon Davis, with a number of other offers out to various 4-star and 5-star recruits. Given a successful couple of years, you’d have to think we’d be able to lock more and more of those types down.
Then, WAAAAY out into the 2018 incoming class, there’s an early verbal commit from Jontay Porter, a 4-star power forward, whose older brother is a 5-star small forward who has yet to commit. Mmm hmm. Things could get really interesting around Montlake in the coming years.
Time will tell if this is the start of something big, or if it’s another instance of getting jerked around by high hopes. The influx of Wroten, Ross, and the like were supposed to jumpstart this thing too, and look at what happened. But, I dunno. This time, it feels different. Instead of coming OH SO CLOSE to landing some of these whales, Romar is actually getting them to sign on the line which is dotted. This could be real. This could be spectacular.
Of course, talk to me if these verbal commits start to renege. I’ll be the guy lowering the noose around his neck.