Editor's Note: We had this conversation the day before Hikeem Stewart committed to the Huskies. We are pleased and excited that Stewart will now be a part of the program.
Although the actual basketball season does not start for another couple of months, the recruiting season has already begun and Romar and his staff are doing their best to get some of the top players on the west coast to come to Montlake and play for the Huskies. Frankie Pavia and I (Kevin Cacabelos) at SeaTown Sports decided to take a look at some of the different possibilities and what this class could potentially bring to the table.
This is what the roster is shaping up to be for 2011-2012:
F-Brandon Sherrer (Not a scholarship player)
G- Terrence Ross
G-Antoine Hosley (not on scholarship)
G- Hikeem Stewart
*We are assuming Thomas stays all four years, and by all indications this seems to be the consensus opinion among those covering the Huskies.
The current roster for 2011 plays out like this: 4 bigs, 4 wings, and 4 guards. With Stewart taking up a spot, there are currently 11 players on scholarship, with two more scholarship spots open. Although unlikely, both Gaddy and Thomas could turn pro, and one player on the Huskies could end up transferring after this season. With this in mind, let's for the sake of things say there are three scholarship spots open.
We will now breakdown the Huskies needs and the strengths and what each current prospect brings to the table:
Kevin: What positions need to be targeted?
Frankie: Big man and point guard. Big man comes quite obviously, seeing the extreme lack of depth the Huskies have up front starting in 2012. But even in 2011, the Huskies are not going to have a single impact big man on the roster unless they recruit one. A front court of Gant, Breshers, Sherrer, and N'Diaye doesn't excite me. I would love to see two, possibly even three big men come to UW this year. That would leave room for one guard, that ought to be a point guard.
Our lineup is already loaded with swing-men - Ross, Wilcox, Suggs, and Simmons. There is only so much playing time to go around, as we found out last year from the transfers of Elston Turner and Clarence Trent. We need a true point guard on the court to drive and dish to these shooters. Now, maybe Gaddy can fill that role, but until nevertheless I would like to see a pure point guard challenging his spot next year.
Kevin: Hopefully N'Diaye turns into the player that Romar wants him to be and can consistently produce, but I'm always iffy on big-men, if you think about it the Huskies have only had one consistent big man the past 10 years: Jon Brockman. I guess you could count Mike Jensen, but he didn't rebound like a traditional big man. I think you're stretching it with three big men, I'd rather have a lot of guards than four big men. Maybe we should target one or two big men in the Class of 2011 and then go get us another one for 2012.
I doubt a big man can make that much of a difference as a freshman. As for a point guard, I do agree with you, but I'm pretty confident Gaddy turns into the player we think he can be. We need someone that can fill in for Gaddy after he leaves in 2013.
Frankie: N'Diaye isn't close. Everything I've read about him seems to make me think he's not going to be more than a 10-15 minute per night player. If Romar doesn't take three big men this year, only bringing in two, he'll have to bring in two no matter what in 2012. Having only three big men on a roster is an unacceptable situation. What if one gets injured?
Big men are also the first to get tired, and need to be subbed most often. For point guards, if you want someone to fill in for Gaddy after he leaves, then you have to be looking at someone who is not going to be a one and done. That slashes Wroten off the list, even though I'm not sure he has the ability to leave after freshman year anyway.
Kevin: What is your opinion on the current big men the Huskies currently have offers to?
Frankie: Well I suppose I'll prioritize them first.
1. Angelo Chol - Chol is the most ready of all them. That's not saying much because they're all pretty raw. However, Chol is quite polished on the defensive end, and he can grab boards at a steady clip. The UW offense is always going to be one revolving around the guards - the only time it hasn't been during Romar's time was Hawes' year. Brockman didn't get a ton of post feeds, the offense didn't run through him, but he scored on putbacks and post positioning. Hopefully Chol can develop some of those skills on offense.
2. Norvel Pelle - Pelle has the potential (scary word) to be incredibly good. Super long wingspan, huge vertical leap, his physical attributes go on. But he is known as somewhat of a lazy player who takes plays, and sometimes even games off. If Romar can salvage his mental game, he would be awesome.
3. Kevin Davis - I don't really know much about Kevin Davis besides the ridiculous numbers he put up at Beamer High School. Apparently he is somewhat of a finesse big man as well, and likes to play outside and times, which is why I put him at three.
Frankie: Which of the three (if any) local high school players (not counting Davis because he has already committed and is at Tacoma CC) would you like to see come in this class?
Kevin: I am ecstatic to know that Hikeem Stewart has decided to come play for Coach Romar. He is athletic, he loves to play in transition, he is gritty, and he is an above-average defender.
Frankie: Can Stewart play point?
Kevin: Yes, but coaches and Hikeem himself see him as more of a combo guard, I just can't envinsion him consitently bringing the ball up the court. What I like most about Stewart though is he is a prototypical four year player. He'll be here for the long run.
Frankie: Please, oh ye of the Ryan Appleby fetish, tell me how you feel about his basketball doppelganger, Brett Kingma.
Kevin: Well, truth be told, I haven't seen him play since the State championship, but I do want to say that Kingma can be a contributor under Romar's system. He won't be a starter in his first two years, but Kingma has stated that Romar thinks he can now be effective in Pac-10 competition.
Like all high-school prospects Kingma needs to improve his strength. He definitely becomes a point guard because of his size or just a three point specialist. I'd like him to become a point guard with an outside shot. If Kingma continues to progress in his ball-handling and passing skills, he can be the point guard that Romar needs after Gaddy leaves.
Frankie: Here's the problem I have with Brett Kingma - we don't need a 6'1" shooting specialist anymore. Ryan Appleby was terrific for the Dawgs because he was here at a time when shooting was at a premium. Shooting is abundant now. No reason to have Kingma when Ross, Wilcox, and Suggs are already on the roster. He is the one player the Huskies are recruiting right now that I would least like to see end up playing for the Dawgs. But now that I think about it, I wouldn't really want to see him play against them, either. Go to Vanderbilt, Kingma!
Kevin: So you'd rather have a big man than try to get a point guard in 2012? Both Stewart and Kingma can play the point, but I see Kingma more as the guy that becomes a point guard.
Frankie: I want Wroten to be the point guard.
Kevin: Tell me what you think of Tony Wroten fitting into Romar's system.
Frankie: Purely as a basketball player, Tony Wroten Jr. is the perfect player for Lorenzo Romar, as an athletic point guard that can create for his teammates at will. He can get the ball to his shooters for open looks, finish creatively at the rim, and get easy looks for his bigs as well.
Kevin: One thing that Wroten doesn't have is the pure go-get it attitude and grittiness that some of these other recruits have. He constantly complains to referees and teammates and shows bad body language when things don't go his way. However, I think Romar has been able to get every player to play hard for him. It won't be the Tony Wroten show if he becomes a Husky. He'll have to work hard to gain the respect of the coaching staff and his teammates.
Frankie: We all know how much he loves the spotlight. In someways, that could be good for UW, bringing attention to the program. But he also has had a tendency to get down on his teammates, and to never take the blame for anything. I've seen him give up in big games before when his team gets down. Wroten will not be a one and done player simply because of his diminished athleticism following ACL surgery. As a point guard, he doesn't need elite vertical athleticism (something which, contrary to popular belief, he never had).
He is still a strong vertical athlete, however. The problem with the ACL tear is that after recovery, lateral quickness is what is most affected. Big point guards typically lack the elite lateral quickness to play effective on-ball defense. Wroten had that before his surgery, and that's what made him such an elite prospect. Now it's up to him to get back what he lost. He can still be a terrific basketball player, I think a good comparison for him is Shaun Livingston given his size, injury history, and court vision. Because of his pure basketball skill, I think Wroten should be Romar's number one target for 2011.
Kevin: Do you think it'd be safe to say Jabari Brown is a one-and-done player?
Frankie: Brown has questions as an NBA prospect too. He's a pure shooting guard, but I believe he lacks the height at 6'4" to be an elite level player. One and odnes are typically elite level NBA players, or they have the physical tools (heigh, wingspan, athleticism) to become one. Brown lacks a standout trait.
Kevin: I think it's safe to say both Wroten and Brown are potential one-and-done players. Do you think we have a shot at getting both? Or just one of these guys? If one of them commits they become an immediate starter.
Frankie: I vehemently disagree with the second statement.
Kevin: You don't see this as a possibility? Gaddy-Thomas-Wroten.
Frankie: Unequivocally no. That's a back-court with no shooting. The 2011 back-court would be Gaddy-Thomas-Ross/Wilcox. I don't think either are one-and-dones if the6 come to UW.
So let's outline our ideal classes and then our most likely classes in order of priority:
1) Tony Wroten- The perfect point guard for Romar's offense and could help bring national media attention to the Dawgs
2) Angelo Chol- The most polished of the big men brings a defensive presence.
3) Norvel Pelle- Having three big men means we could give the Justin Holiday-thin Pelle a year to bulk up and improve his post skills.
4) Kevin Davis- Another local kid provides post depth and defensive versatility.
5) Jabari Brown - Terrific shooter, potential superstar for the Dawgs
1) Tony Wroten- Local guy that can become one of the best players in the country, if he can get his shot consistent he will hard to stop.
2) Angelo Chol- The big man I want the most, he has a huge ceiling and can run the floor.
3) Hikeem Stewart- A four-year player that will thrive and improve under Romar's system, provides a great spark-plug to this team.
4) Kevin Davis- Another wing/big that can run the floor in Romar's system, I could see him getting minutes right away.
Onto what we think will most likely happen (Since this was written last week, bear witness to our psychic powers in predicting Stewart's commitment...):
1) Hikeem Stewart- I think he's basically a UW lock at this point.
2) Angelo Chol- He is going to realize how much exposure he can get early in his career by coming to UW.
3) Tony Wroten- He'll realize what it will mean to his Seattle fans to stay home and play for the Dawgs.
4) Brett Kingma- He has some family ties and realizes how he could fit into Romar's system.
Right now I think Jabari Brown will start getting too much attention from big-name schools to say no. I think Norvel Pelle is too much of a mixed-bag to predict. I doubt Kevin Davis will be able to gain eligibility in one year, I think it'll take him one more of year of Junior College.
1) Hikeem Stewart- Best school to offer him and he'll get playing time if he works hard
2) Tony Wroten- Too many connections to ignore, he's been connected to UW ever since this recruiting process started. He loves the guys that have come before him as Huskies.
3) Angelo Chol- I'd say Chol wants to stay close to San Diego on the west coast, the other three schools Alabama, Georgetown, and Kansas are not on the west coast.
And then that's it. I think if Romar gets someone else it'll come later. I think if Brown chooses a west-coast school I think it'd be California, the Huskies also have too many players that do the same things as Brown. I think Kingma will realize he'll thrive more at a place like Oregon or BYU, he'd get more playing time at those places. With Pelle considering so many schools, I got to think UW isn't exactly the favorite at this point, and I think if Chol commits here Pelle commits somewhere else. With all this said, is it way too early to say the name Brandon Ashley?
As of now, Ashley should be the #1 target for Romar in 2012.
Frankie: I think Romar will undoubtedly come away with 4 players in the class of 2012. This Class of 2011 has the potential to be Romar's highest rated class.
Kevin: If the Huskies don't get Wroten, Kingma/Stewart are the only options to play point guard, and they don't have the complete skill sets to be effective in Romar's system. It might be better for Romar to find the Huskies an elite point guard from 2012.
Frankie: It also has the potential to be pretty disappointing if Wroten, Chol, Pelle, and Brown all spurn the Dawgs (something I believe is unlikely).
Kevin: I think the worst case scenario is we get half of those guys.
Frankie: In my opinion, I think the worst-case scenario is only one player.
With two guaranteed scholarship spots open, these next few months promises to be an exciting time for Husky basketball as Jabari Brown, Angelo Chol, Tony Wroten, Norvel Pelle, and Brett Kingma all consider to play basketball for the Washington Huskies.