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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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April 24, 2006

Monday mailbag

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:57 AM

It's Monday so I'll try to quickly answer a couple of questions.

• A few people asked how Spencer Hawes did in the Jordan Classic over the weekend. Here's a story that includes a good synopsis of how Hawes did, as well as other big-time recruits.

• A few others asked for some ratings of UW's recruiting class. Got to admit, that's something I can't do since I don't see all these high-schoolers play, spending the winter instead covering the Huskies themselves. But here's one ranking that is typical of how I think Washington's class is regarded.

Schedules released

The Pac-10 has already released the conference portion of next year's schedule. The Huskies will get tested right off the bat this year by going to USC and UCLA for the first two games. Unlike this year, at least UW will have some prior road experience as the Huskies also have a non-conference game at Gonzaga in early December and are still trying to fill in three other dates that could include another road game, although the most likely scenario is a road game during one of the weeks that the Huskies play WSU during the conference season.

April 20, 2006

Big changes in Pac-10

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:00 PM

The last two springs, Washington fans were nervous waiting to see which of their underclassmen - or high school recruits - would leave for the greener pastures of the NBA, or decide to stay at UW.

Now, it's UW fans who can sit back and watch fans of other conference teams squirm.

Wednesday, it was Cal's Leon Powe, saying he will test the waters and go through some tryouts, though without hiring an agent:
Today it's UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar.

Arizona's Mustafa Shakur has also already decided to see where he stands, though without hiring an agent, and Roosevelt High grad Marcus Williams is still trying to make a final decision.

If I had to guess, I'd say Powe and Farmar go - I think Powe's stock won't improve much by coming back since the major negative is his size and his history of knee injuries. As for Farmar, there have been rumors about him wanting to leave since the start of the season and what he did in leading UCLA to the final game would seem to have helped his status.

If those two come back, I think UCLA and Cal are the prohibitive favorites heading into next season. If both leave, the top becomes that much more open for a team like Washington to maybe intrude upon.

Even if it is apparently a fairly light touch.

But here's a story on the investigation into some potential NCAA violations at Oklahoma that mentions Jim Shaw, who worked at OU then and is now an assistant at Washington

Shaw will apparently have to testify in these hearings, but I've been told he is a minor player in this and that it is unlikely anything would come out of this that would impact his duties at Washington.

Shaw worked at Oklahoma from 2000-2004 before coming to UW where he has gotten lots of credit for his recruiting and work with Washington's big men. He is also in charge of rebounding for the Huskies.

And from what I understand, Shaw left Oklahoma before the investigation began there, meaning he didn't head here to get away from trouble there.

April 19, 2006

Thomas official tomorrow

Posted by Bob Condotta at 12:53 PM

Because there is no suspense left, Isaiah Thomas has decided to move up his news conference to officially announce he will attend Washington to tomorrow (Thursday) at Curtis High School in University Place.

The news broke last night that Thomas had committed and he had already told UW coaches. As of late last night, his press conference was set for next week, but it's obvious now there is no reason to wait.

This is a good recruit for Washington. Thomas will be the highest-rated in-state player next year, and it continues Washington's solid recruiting in the state. The Huskies signed Martell Webster and Jon Brockman two years ago, Spencer Hawes this year and now Thomas, who will officially sign in November.

Thomas is officially listed at 5 feet 9, 166 pounds, though most figure he's really at least an inch shorter.

He is a dynamic offensive player who should immediately be able to score for the Huskies. His biggest challenges will come at the defensive end, where he doesn't yet show the intensity of Nate Robinson, a similarly sized player who became a first-round NBA draft pick.

Figuring out just how Thomas will be able to fit into the Huskies is hard to do right now because it's difficult to project exactly who Washington will have on the floor by then. Will Hawes play more than one year? Will Justin Dentmon stay longer than two?

But Thomas no doubt will be an integral part of UW's future.

Expect Washington to recruit another player or two for that class. The obvious question is how many scholarships UW will have for the class of 2007. The Huskies have just one scholarship senior next year " Hans Gasser. But Hawes might not be around long and there could be other changes.

As I've written here before, the scholarship situation isn't something that has to be settled until all the players arrive. As Lorenzo Romar always says "it'll all work out'' so I wouldn't worry too much about that aspect of recruiting right now.

Blake Young redux

We wrote a little here yesterday about Blake Young getting away.

One person who follows recruiting closely described him as a player who could have scored 14 or 15 points per game for UW next year. In recruiting circles, Young was considered all but a lock for Washington until Kansas State and new coach Bob Huggins got into the picture about two weeks ago.

Young hadn't been expected to make a visit to Kansas State until last week, when he decided just a few days beforehand to take a trip there. He then visited UW over the weekend and after returning home, decided to commit to K-State yesterday.

As for Keaton Grant, I don't think his commitment to Purdue had anything to do with Young, though I know some figured his decision Saturday to not take a trip to UW meant that Young was probably coming to Seattle.

Instead, it sounds as if Purdue forced Grant's hand, convincing him that it was too big of a gamble to wait and see what would happen with UW and Young. The Huskies weren't going to offer both players scholarships, and Grant knew he was second on Washington's list.

As for Roburt Sallie, I don't think there was any interest on UW's end anymore, even if Sallie might have been interested in reigniting his chances at coming to Seattle. I think the Huskies lost interest when Sallie had trouble getting academically eligible.

Sallie has apparently officially signed with Nebraska, which puts that to bed for good.

April 18, 2006

Young passses on UW

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:20 PM

Bad news for the Huskies as JC guard Blake Young has reportedly passed on Washington in favor of Kansas State.

Here's a report from the Wichita Eagle.

UW coaches can't comment on recruiting. But word on the grapevine was that Young, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College, had a good trip to Washington this weekend but was enamored by the pull of Bob Huggins and was influenced by the fact that his JC coach, Brad Underwood, played at Kansas State.

I don't think there was much optimism at UW as the weekend ended that the Huskies were going to get Young.
I think the Huskies figured they would have gotten Young if Kansas State hadn't gotten involved late in the process. But there's a reason why Huggins always won at Cincinnati.

With the decision of Keaton Grant to go to Purdue over the weekend, the Huskies will have to turn elsewhere now if they want to add any players to next year's team. They may pursue other transfers, or simply hold onto the scholarship for next year.

Roy in the house

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:19 PM

I saw Brandon Roy working out at Edmundson Pavilion today along with Jamaal Williams and Mike Jensen.

Roy is back in town for a few days before heading to Los Angeles next week to work out for a week or two with other players who are also represented by Arn Tellem, whom Roy chose as his agent earlier this month. Tellem's office also represents Martell Webster and Ike Diogu, among many others.

Roy says he's hearing he'll go anywhere from No. 5-8 in the draft.

"But if I have some good workouts, the sky's the limit,'' he said.

He's workout out twice a day while in Seattle " in the mid-afternoon with UW assistant Cameron Dollar and other Huskies; and at night with an NBA trainer.

April 13, 2006

Recruiting heating up

Posted by Bob Condotta at 1:56 PM

A few people have asked here in recent days what the Huskies are doing about the Class of 2007.

We'll get to that soon enough.

But the more pertinent recruiting news is that the Huskies aren't done with the Class of 2006.

As we wrote in this story last week, the Huskies are expecting a visit this weekend from Blake Young, a junior college guard from Florida.

He's expected to make a decision sometime after he visits.

Word was UW was the favorite for his services until Kansas State, and new coach Bob Huggins, got involved late in the process.

Young visited K-State last weekend. Not only is Huggins a big name and an aggressive recruiter who appears ready to get K-State on the map in a hurry, but Young's junior college coach played at Kansas State.

In case Young goes elsewhere, the Huskies are also recruiting guard Keaton Grant, a 6-3, 200-pounder who played last season at North Bridgton (Maine) Academy. Grant is expected to visit UW Sunday-Tuesday and will likely be offered a scholarship if Young doesn't commit.

Here's a profile of Grant.

Grant is also listed as the No. 24 prep school player in the country by Hoop Scoop. Two of his North Bridgton teammates are rated higher on that list.

UW, however, won't take both Grant and Young.

As I wrote last week, the Huskies are expecting to give out one more scholarship. Technically, they are at their limit, but they obviously expect something to happen to open one up — most likely, Zach Johnson won't be back on a basketball scholarship after missing the last two years with knee injuries. But that part of the equation doesn't need to be taken care of now.

I talked with Grant and we'll have more on him on-line and in the paper tomorrow.

• In case you didn't see it, here's the list of winners at the team banquet Wednesday night.

101 Club Scholar Athlete: Hans Gasser
Harshman Trophy - Top Rebounder: Jon Brockman
Industrial Award: Joe Wolfinger
Tyee Sports Council Community Service: Zane Potter
Wurster Hustle Award: Brandon Roy
Brandon West Walk On Award: Brandon Burmeister
Playmaker Award: Brandon Roy
Coaches Award: Ryan Appleby
Hec Edmundson Most Inspirational: Joel Smith
John Meyers Defensive Player Award: Brandon Roy/Bobby Jones (co-winners)
Most Improved: Jamaal Williams
MVP: Brandon Roy

April 12, 2006

Off-season meanderings

Posted by Bob Condotta at 10:58 AM

OK, I'll see if anybody's still out there.

I plan to update the blog at least once a week during the offseason, and more often when there is news (such as around draft time).

Here are a few news items rolling around this week:

• Brandon Roy has signed an agent. This story here reports it, and I also had heard it through a UW source. Arn Tellem is one of the most respected agents around, so this sounds like a good move.

• The NCAA's Management Council has given approval to a proposal that will allow schools to play in preseason tournaments every year instead of just two times every four years.

The final approval, as the story notes, is April 27. Once this goes through, expect the Huskies to begin working on hosting a tournament next year as it is too late to get in any of the big-name preseason tournaments in Alaska, Hawaii, etc. It'll probably be along the lines of this year's BCA Classic, with at least one or two big-name teams in the mix.

So far, UW has six set games for next season — at Gonzaga and home to Louisiana State, Idaho, Eastern Washington, Portland State and Sacramento State. They need three more regular games, plus whatever they can get in a tournament. Washington is trying to schedule at least one more road game against a big-name team but has had attempts to get the likes of Duke, Georgia Tech and Connecticut go awry. One of the problems is that teams that make the trip out here would like to play two games. But there obviously aren't a lot of other options, especially for finding games against an easily beatable team. The Huskies have become so good that a lot of teams also simply don't want to play them right now.

• Several people have asked for a general assessment of how Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams did at the Portsmouth Invitational.

Here's what I heard — Jones played really well, making the all-tournament team, and will be invited to the NBA Pre-Draft Camp, which this year is in Orlando, June 6-10, rather than its traditional site of Chicago. The one thing to remember about Portsmouth, however, is that almost no one who figures to be a first-round pick is there. So being the best at that camp means mostly being the best of likely second-rounders. Still, that's good news for Jones, who just needs a chance to get in a camp. Sounds as if he played great defense, diving on the floor. In short, he did all the little things that endeared him to everyone here, things sure to make him an attractive player for some NBA team to take a chance on.

As for Jamaal, word is most scouts came away thinking what they already thought — that he's a nice college player but whose height prevents him from being a real NBA prospect. Expect Jamaal to end up overseas, where he will probably have a great career as a low-post scorer.

• Finally, wondering what kind of enthusiasm there would be out there for us to add football to this blog, as well, turning it into a football-basketball blog? We started this as a strictly basketball blog this season, knowing the team would be good and there would be a lot of interest. The football team, obviously, isn't doing quite as well right now. Still, we're considering it and I'd like to know what you think. Any feedback would be appreciated.

April 6, 2006

The offseason begins

Posted by Bob Condotta at 11:17 AM

Here's a quick update on a few things revolving around the Huskies and the Pac-10:

Here's our story today on a recruit Washington will have in for a visit next weekend, a JC guard from Florida named Blake Young.

First, however, he's visiting Creighton and Kansas State this weekend. And Kansas State could be dangerous in this equation, as Bob Huggins has just been hired there and has big plans. The Wildcats were close to being a good team this season, anyway, and if you've read anything about that situation lately, you know that Huggins is rumored to have a good chance to bring in O.J. Mayo, generally considered the top recruit in the class of 2007. A kid like Young could be enticed by the thought of playing alongside Mayo.

The story also alludes to UW's scholarship situation. If the Huskies get Young, it would put them one over the limit. But remember that those limits only matter once next fall rolls around. As Lorenzo Romar always tells us "these things have a way of working themselves out.'' It's most likely that Zach Johnson won't be back on a basketball scholarship due to his injuries — he'd likely remain in school on a hardship scholarship. But that's not something they would have to do until next fall when everyone arrives, so I'm not sure there would be immediate movement on that front.

— Here is Young's profile on the school's official site.

— Several people have asked what the Huskies do during the off-season.

What they are allowed to do right now is work in small groups with players through the rest of the school year. The other day, assistant coach Cameron Dollar was working with Justin Dentmon on a variety of ball-handling drills — Dentmon was dribbling up and down the court with balls in each hand, for instance. And Paul Fortier was on the court doing drills with Joe Wolfinger, who seems to always be working with one of the coaches on something.

Then the players will typically gather for an informal scrimmage — per NCAA rules, the coaches can't be around for such games. On Tuesday, it was the eight returning scholarship guys other than Johnson, plus walk-on Brandon Burmeister, joined by incoming recruit Spencer Hawes.

Hawes looked great in the portion I watched, doing a left-right-left spin move to score — the finish coming with his left hand. Harvey Perry also looked real active, as did Wolfinger.

— Here's a story on the first day of the Portsmouth Camp with some glowing words on the play of Bobby Jones.

— And here's a story out of Eugene indicating that Jordan Kent might not be back with the basketball team next season if football works out.

April 4, 2006

Final Four thoughts

Posted by Bob Condotta at 2:47 PM

Man, what a blah Final Four.

Watching Florida and UCLA slog through that game Monday night only added to the disappointing feeling that the Huskies really blew a golden opportunity.

But while that's certainly true, I think the tournament also should comfort UW fans with the knowledge that the difference among the top 20 or so teams in the country these days is thinner than ever. Just get yourself in that group of teams that's consistently in the top 20-25 and an NCAA tournament run can come at any time.

And I think that's right where the Huskies are now — a consistent top-20 program that can be expected at any time to make a long tournament run.

The national favorites heading into next season will likely be Florida and UCLA, assuming neither team has some mass departures of underclassmen to the NBA. But other than that, it will be a crapshoot (though I'd expect big things out of North Carolina as well), one that the Huskies can easily find themselves in come February and March if Spencer Hawes, Quincy Pondexter and the rest of the youngsters progress as well as everyone assumes they will.

Florida and UCLA each showed that youth — which will be Washington's main question mark next season -- is no impediment to making a long tournament run.

That said, here's my early guess on the Pac-10 rankings heading into next season:

1. UCLA: Even if the Bruins lose a player or two — which I actually doubt now — they'll be the favorite.
2. Cal: This is assuming Leon Powe returns, and I'd guess he doesn't, so this could easily change. Cal will move to fifth or so in my book if Powe leaves. But until he says he's gone, I'll put Cal here.

3. Arizona: Sorry, but Chase Budinger looked really good in the McDonald's game and if the rest of the underclassmen come back, this is a loaded team.

4. Washington: But the Huskies should have no problem getting into the NCAA tournament, which will be the most important thing for a young team that should be at its best come March.

5. USC: The team to watch with everyone back in Tim Floyd's second year. Could challenge for best backcourt in the conference with Pruitt, Young, Stewart and Francis.

6. Oregon: Maybe the most interesting team in the Pac-10 with Ernie Kent's job almost certainly depending on an NCAA tournament berth. Everyone apparently is coming back.

7. Stanford: The Lopez twins arrive, but something seems amiss on The Farm.

8. Washington State: I don't think the loss of Akognon hurts that much, because he didn't really fit, and everyone else should be a lot better. They may respond better this year to the lack of coaching uncertainty, as well.

9. Arizona State: Herb Sendek is an interesting choice, and if everyone returns there's enough talent on hand to be dangerous.

10. Oregon State: Beavers lose most of their best players to graduation and this season seemed like a big step back as it was.


• Maybe the Huskies won't be losing any of their assistants, after all. Here's a story that says Portland is looking at three assistants for its head coaching job, none of whom are Cameron Dollar and Jim Shaw.

• Here's another story about the Montana State job that Shaw pulled himself out of recently that also includes the news that Montana's Larry Krystowiak could be a candidate at Pepperdine, where it was thought Dollar might be involved. It's also still rumored that Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier is in the mix at Pepperdine.