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Washington Basketball Frontcourt Preview

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

With Lorenzo Romar as coach, the Dawgs are known for producing NBA-level guards. Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Isaiah Thomas, Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten contrast the big men who ended up in the NBA: Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes. Quincy Pondexter is the in-betwen who was a little bit of both at the NCAA level but has been primarily a wing player for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The incorporation of Brad Jackson's high post offense may make a difference in this, but knowing Romar guards will always be the focus of his teams.

Within this offense more post players will be forced to make decisions for the offense, so a player with better passing ability from the post will be able to shine. Expect Jernard Jarreau to grow into this role.

And with Jarreau is where this preview begins. With the season already underway we have a bit of a better picture of Jarreau than we did before the season opener. I personally consider him the wild-card of the frontcourt. He isn't truly a post or a wing but can do either one well enough. He is being used as in the high post as the main distributor among the post players while he is on the floor.

Jarreau hit a massive growth spurt late in his high school career, which helps to explain his wiry build. He now measures 6-10 and weighs over 220 pounds. Coming out of high school he was regarded as a high upside guy with the right coaching and work ethic. He has put on over 30 pounds since his high school days and that has really helped him to play inside the post not get pushed around so easily. His slenderness still may cause him problems at times, but his overall length will give him an advantage with a wingspan that spans over seven feet. (ESPN)

While he has not been too assertive in his small number of games so far into this season, he has the handle and athleticism to get to the basket. He has a small-forward skill-set; Jarreau moves like a guard and has a solid jumper with the length of a post player. Romar hasn't had very many true small-forward types outside of Pondexter, but the skills will be a great boon to the assimilation of the Huksies into the high post offense.

Jarreau has strong court vision for a big man, as he played guard for the majority of his high school career. He still does not possess the strength required for a full-time post and is still working on gaining that, but he has the ability to impact the game in a number of ways, whether that will be attacking the basket from the post, passing out from the elbow or the maturation of his jump shot.

My personal favorite post player is Desmond Simmons. I am going to ignore the fact that he can't hit a gosh-darned layup for the sake of this article. Except for right there. Right there I mentioned that he can't hit a layup. Moving on.

Simmons is a classic glue-guy. He sets screens, rebounds and grabs loose balls. So far this season he has shown a bit more of an ability to score in transition and finish around the rim. With his length it would be expected that he would dunk a few more of those opportunities, but for now we'll have to settle for him missing a few layups here and there (not again!) until he decides to throw them down.

Simmons tends to play in Jarreau's stead. When one sits, the other gets minutes. They have drastically different styles but end up playing the same position oftentimes. Simmons uses his length to get deflections, steals and rebounds. He is not the shot-blocker one would expect. Jarreau uses his length to attack the basket and his court vision to distribute.

Whenever Simmons makes a good hustle play I write down in my notes "Dezzy!" and if there are enough Dezzys written in the notebook he gets his own Dot to savor and cherish forever.

Martin Breunig has not gotten very many minutes but has shown flashes of his ability in the playing time he has received. Some have criticized him as not a true post but his skill-set seems to fit that of a face-up four. He has a decent mid-range jumper, a strong physique and is very mobile. Unfortunately we don't know much more about him with the little bit of minutes he has played.

The fact that he plays few meaningful minutes may mean he is just not ready for the Division-I game. Maybe it means that Romar really likes the three bigs he has rotating now. We don't know what it means but hopefully Breunig can develop into a contributor in the next several years for Washington.

Shawn Kemp Jr. was supposed to take a big leap this season. Lorenzo Romar praised Kemp when the injury happened.

"It doesn’t impact the rotation, but it impacts the guy who was turning the corner as an offensive weapon," Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He had probably become our best low-post threat, in terms of bigs. It takes away from what we were doing early because he was playing really well."

Kemp is a physical presence who could give a bit of scoring. Having a low-post scoring threat helps greatly in opening up passing lanes for the high-post passer, so the injury does hurt the Huskies. In addition, there are three players rotating on the front lines. 80 minutes split between three players. Moving around that much size is very difficult, especially when half the time you are banging against another person just as big as yourself. Kemp isn't the athlete his father was (few are) but can still score down low and in transition.

Kemp's defending isn't the sharpest but he is still able to dole out hard fouls and use his strength to prevent defenders from pushing him around.

The key to Washington's post play is Aziz N'Diaye. He is big, he is strong, and he can move very well for a big guy. He had the best offense-to-defense play for the Huskies last season.

He is their leading rebounder and shot blocker from a year ago. Among returners he is also third in scoring. He has developed a nice hook shot and has now added a drop-step layup to his post arsenal from the left block. N'Diaye staying healthy will be the biggest key to this season, especially during the time that Kemp is out recovering from his knee injury.

With all of the guard depth, losing another member of the bigs down low would strike much harder than losing Abdul Gaddy, C.J. WIlcox or Scott Suggs to injury. Gaddy may be what keeps the team going, but Andrews and Hikeem Stewart can manage the point in his absence -- although obviously not as well. Who could step into N'Diaye's shoes? Simmons? When Simmons needs a breather then either Jarreau or Bruenig will have to man the middle. Pray for the health of N'Diaye and Kemp. Especially Kemp. Kemp is the one hurt right now so he probably deserves more attention than N'Diaye on the injury front. Heal fast Shawn!

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