Coach Lorenzo Romar starts his 14th season as head coach of the UW men’s basketball team. It should be an exciting ride with expectations of making it back to the NCAA Tournament. We preview UW’s backcourt as newcomer Markelle Fultz will be the one to watch all season.
Last season’s top scorer, Andrew Andrews, led the young team averaging 20.9 points per game. Andrews was one of the last cuts by the Charlotte Hornets but may catch on with their D-League team in Greensboro. Also gone is DeJounte Murray as the second-leading scorer from last year’s group jumped to the NBA Draft and was picked in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs. Murray was sent to Spurs’ D-League team to start the NBA season.
Crisp could be the most important player for the Huskies this season. While Fultz will be the focal point, Crisp will need to bring stability to the point guard position and be more of a floor leader. Coach Romar indicated that Crisp is getting more reps at the point position although he was more a shooting guard last year. Romar also stated in an interview with the Seattle Times this past August that Crisp is better defensively.
It is the leadership that Crisp will need to infuse into his play. His freshman year was up and down as he started off well and went through a slump in the middle of the season. He’ll have to shoulder some of the scoring load with Andrews and Murray gone, in addition to keeping in mind he needs to distribute the basketball. He will need to know when to slow down the offense and when to pick it up. This can play into Crisp’s game as a slasher and someone that can take the ball to the basket and create fouls or opportunities for others.
With that being said, Crisp will have to improve on is shooting efficiency as we explained here. And, of course, he’ll need to be a better defender as will the rest of the team.
Kingma, the 5-10 junior, earned a scholarship last year after walking onto the team as a freshman. Kingma will likely be a spot player in the rotation and might be in the game with two minutes in the first half to steal some minutes if Crisp and Fults are in foul trouble. He could also provide some spark as a 3-point shooter if there’s a need.
While he has not played a regular season game for the Huskies, based on his résumé and pre-season accolades, the true freshman from Upper Marlboro, Maryland should be a special player to watch. He is at the top of the list as a Freshman of the Year pick and narrowly missed the AP Preseason All-American First Team.
Fultz is the complete package and we’ll likely see him in New York this June as part of the NBA Draft. He’s a fluid player that is smooth with the ball and can play defense. He’s projected as the top freshman scorer in college this year according to SI and CBS Sports. This past summer he led the USA Under-18 team in the World Championships. He averaged 3.2 steals in the tournament. At 6'5", he’ll be able to physically deal with most guards. Also, he should be able to work with Romar’s switching defense avoiding most mismatches.
He’s also a great shot blocker for a guard. It appears that he’s a great rim-protector as evidenced by this display.
Ok, wrong video.
Fultz will be the most exciting player to watch on the whole team. It a shame that Vine is retired because he is the kind of player that you will be amazed to watch. Here’s a sample:
Unlike Fultz, Baruti (previously went by Harold) comes to Montlake with little fanfare. Baruti is a 6-6, 210-pound freshman originally from The Congo. He comes to the Dawgs from Mountain Mission Prep School in Grundy, Virginia. He moved to the United States just two years ago. Baruti originally committed to Utah in May, but due to issues with admissions he re-opened recruitment and committed to the Huskies this summer. Baruti is long, athletic, and could compete for playing time in the rotation as Pac-12 play starts.
According to Scout.com, Baruti was a 3-star recruit.
His high school highlight tape shows that he can hit the three and is comfortable off the dribble. In my opinion, his game is a little reminiscent of Quevyn Winters, a JuCo transfer that played for Coach Romar during the 2014-2015 season. Winters left the program after the season.
Baruti should shape into the kind of Romar "OKG" with his length and athleticism.
Barnard is a 6-foot freshman from O’Dea High School in Seattle. He’s one of two walk-ons this season. It’s unlikely you’ll see Barnard this year unless there’s some garbage time.
Johnson comes to UW from Findlay Prep in Nevada. You might recall this is the same school which Nigel Williams-Goss attended. Johnson is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound guard originally from Oakland, California.
Johnson, a 3-star recruit per Scout.com, committed to UNLV but later re-opened his recruitment and picked the Huskies last spring.
Coach Romar has called him a mentally tough player. His high school highlight tape shows that he is an all-around player with a back-to-the basket game, distributes the ball, and plays hard-nosed defense.
What to hope for and expect from the backcourt this season
With Andrews and Murray gone, the Huskies will rely on Fultz and David Crisp to make up the backcourt scoring. While Fultz will be the center of attention, I think Crisp will need to mature this season as a ball-handler and leader on the floor. If Johnson and Baruti can provide energy on the defensive end and some offense to complement Fultz and Crisp, we should have a solid backcourt to compete in the Pac-12.