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Newest Husky: Aziz N'Diaye

I could not crop this image in a way that fit his entire body. He's kind of tall.
I could not crop this image in a way that fit his entire body. He's kind of tall.

Height: Listed at 7'0" or 7'1"

Weight: Listed from 230 to 260

College: Southern Idaho

High School: Lake Forest Academy (Illinois)

Will be a redshirt sophomore next year.

College Numbers: 21.8 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.3 BPG

The Good:

He's a tall player at 7 feet, capable of being a force on the boards. He blocks shots and can score a little, with his points primarily coming on putbacks, dunks and layups. Was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school. 3 years of eligibility left.

The Bad:

He's coming off of a torn ACL and hasn't played college ball in a year. His mobility may leave something to be desired. His offensive repertoire is basically limited to within 5 feet of the basket, and he can't hit a free throw to save his life. As with any JUCO player coming to UW, there's always the concern of if he'll gain admittance.

The Verdict:

This is a good sign for the program, but there are a ton of question marks surrounding N'Diaye. Will he maintain his athleticism with his repaired ACL? How's his lateral mobility going to be? Explosiveness? Quickness? Confidence in his knee? Coming off of a major knee injury, these are all valid concerns. You don't need to look much further than this last season to see how injuries can effect players: Justin Holiday missed the offseason due to a much less serious hernia surgery, and didn't get back to full strength until the second half of the season. Tyreese Breshers missed an entire season and has yet to get caught up to Pac-10 basketball.

A big question will be how the big man fits into the rotation. It's unlikely that he supplants Matthew Bryan-Amaning in the starting lineup given MBA's progress over the past year, but probable that N'Diaye will be among the first big men off of the bench. Having 3 bigs is a luxury, given Breshers' propensity for foul trouble. It'd be nice if he could provide 20 minutes a game.

Once Aziz gets onto the floor, it may mean a change of style. Even if the ACL is completely 100%, he will not run the floor as well as MBA does. It's just unrealistic to expect that. But even if he's lost mobility, it won't mean the Huskies can't run. With N'Diaye's shotblocking ability, those rejections are going to create opportunities for players to get out in transition, and if he's as good a rebounder as anticipated (he bested Demarcus Cousins when they matched up, but again, pre ACL tear) he needs only to make an outlet pass and the Dawgs are on their way. For instance, a lineup of Isaiah Thomas/Venoy Overton/Elston Turner/Holdiay/N'Diaye would have no trouble taking bad shots by the opposition and turning them into runouts for layups.

The area where I'm anticipating Aziz N'Diaye will have the biggest impact on the team will be on the defensive side of the ball. Because of the aforementioned foul trouble, it was nearly impossible for Romar to play both MBA and Breshers together last season. It wasn't often necessary, but would have occasionally been nice when playing teams that were bigger. This coming season the Huskies will see a couple of teams with multiple big men (notably, USC and UCLA) and N'Diaye will help the team to match up against them. Additionally, having another big man guarding the paint will allow the perimeter defenders to be aggressive and force more turnovers. The key to success next season may be the team's defense with two stud defenders returning in Overton and Holiday, and N'Diaye may be a piece that helps take the squad from very good to great.

Lorenzo Romar's track record with JUCO players is pretty good. The first name that's going to come to mind is Tre Simmons, who averaged double figures scoring in both years on Montlake and was an integral player on two teams that went to the NCAA tournament. Romar also signed Hakeem Rollins, who wasn't spectacular, but provided depth in the frontcourt on two teams that went to the Sweet 16. His most recent sign was Charles Garcia, and though he never became a Husky, LoRo's scouting was dead on: Garcia is heading to the NBA.

Welcome to Husky basketball Aziz.