My Player Projections: 32 mpg, 12.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.9 apg, 45.1/39.2/81.2% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 15 games, 30.4 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.3 apg, 51.4/44.7/83.7% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “There’s obviously the giant caveat in Green’s projections about the number of games he’ll play. When he is eligible I don’t think there’s much debate about what Green’s on court performance will look like.”
Worst Quote: “If he can take care of the ball, keep everyone happy with their touches, and knock down 3-pointers when open then he’ll be the critical missing piece for this team to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
I wrote my player profile on Quade before we knew that he was going to be eligible for the beginning of the season. I also wrote it before we knew that he was going to be academically ineligible for the second half of the season. That dynamic threw off all of my projections at the point guard spot but overall meant I was only off on the total games Quade played by 5 or so rather than 15.
Green’s numbers likely would’ve come down a bit if he had gone through the entire Pac-12 slate but I expected him to be very good from the drop and he was that. There was a definite adjustment period but at the time that he went out Quade was playing like a 1st team all-conference player. Over the 8 games before his academic ineligibility he averaged 15.3 points and 6 assists per game on 53% 3pt shooting with a 2.5 A/TO ratio. It’s no wonder the team mostly collapsed without him.
I maintain that my worst quote there would have been correct if he had done what he needed to do in the classroom. If Quade played the entire year this team would have been in position to make the NCAA tournament in an alternate reality where we had one. He was phenomenal during that month long stretch and if he gets everything together and can be relied upon next year then he massively raises the team’s ceiling.
My Player Projections: 8 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 43.9/36.0/70.0% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 11 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 29.2/15.2/73.3% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “I think Hardy’s game is better suited playing with the 1’s so I wouldn’t be shocked if Tsohonis maintained the backup spot in that case.”
Worst Quote: “The extra experience and year in the system plus the need to pair a pass first option alongside Carter, Stewart, and McDaniels makes me think Hardy gets the call with the starters.”
If you merely look at minutes played and the per game numbers then you would think I pretty well nailed it. Of course the point guard situation ended up being largely the reverse of what I wrote at the time. I expected Hardy to begin the year as the starter while Green was out due to transfer rules then get no more than 5 minutes per game once Quade became ineligible. Instead Hardy started the year as the backup and briefly became the starter before losing his spot to Tsohonis.
I also was completely off on the shooting splits. Hardy had one of the worst shooting seasons you’ll ever see. He finished the season with a putrid 67.7 offensive efficiency rating (100 is average) and shot just 5/33 from 3pt range. Sam Timmins was 3/8. Isaiah Stewart was 5/20. Elijah also finished the year with a 34.7% turnover rate which means more than 1/3rd of the time that he finished a possession it resulted in a turnover. Neither Hameir Wright or Sam Timmins cracked 28%. And Hardy is a pass first point guard. Blech.
Luckily Hardy was also regarded as the best pressure on ball defender Washington had and he lived up to that billing with a 3.6% steal rate. That figure would’ve been 1st in the conference this season if he’d played enough minutes to qualify (Jamal Bey ended up #1). It’s impossible to imagine Hardy having a worse year offensively and if he can rebound to average in that regard and keep up his defensive utility then he’ll still make a fine change of pace backup although it’s hard to imagine him being a long-term starter after this season.
My Player Projections: 10 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.7/32.1/60.9% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 22.3 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 42.4/41.2/65.4% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “They tried to smooth out the minutes as much as possible in Italy but Tsohonis finished third on the team in playing time behind only Naz Carter and Isaiah Stewart. That feels like it has to mean something.”
Worst Quote: “Hopkins has shown he’s willing to start a player (Sam Timmins) while closing with another (Noah Dickerson). That could be the case for the Hardy/Tsohonis split while Green is out and it could be a game by game decision who sees the court once Green is back.”
I’m calling it a win that in August I thought that Tsohonis looked to have higher upside than Hardy. I won’t belabor the point for a third time but obviously things changed greatly in terms of situation from when I wrote the preview. It was clear that Tsohonis was someone that needed the ball in his hands and was more score first than a distributor. Because of this I thought he would clash if playing alongside Jaden McDaniels and Naz Carter.
I was partly right. McDaniels and Carter both showed less ability to be a reliable primary ball handler than I expected and Jaden was brought off the bench after Hop clearly saw the same data I did on how poor the numbers were with both in the game. Rather than bringing Tsohonis off the bench to lead the second unit he was out there with the starters to try to spark a scoring punch when Green went down.
I’m going to take this small space to discuss his bizarre usage this year and talk through it. Tsohonis sustained an injury in the exhibition opener and didn’t get into a game until the 4th contest. After playing briefly in 3 games it became clear that Quade was what the coaching staff had hoped and there was really only a need for one other point guard. My guess is the coaching staff thought Tsohonis was maybe slightly better but Hardy provided a better contrast and it would be more valuable to redshirt Tsohonis then upgrade slightly for 5 minutes per game. Once Green went out they knew that having someone comfortable leading the offense for long stretches would be required and yanked the redshirt idea.
My Player Projections: 4 mpg, 1.1 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 35.0/37.5/75.0% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 20 games, 11.3 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apg, 33.0/26.5/78.6% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “I don’t think he’s going to redshirt but usage like we saw last year for Elijah Hardy or Jamal Bey is more likely where he will accumulate some DNPs and have other games where he enters for 5 minutes or so maybe as a zone buster.”
Worst Quote: “I had a tough time figuring out who was going to fall out of the rotation on a team that legitimately could go 12 deep but unfortunately I see Battle as one of the likely cuts.”
Battle ended up getting sizable minutes when he played but his usage swung wildly. He played just 26 minutes in the first 16 contests before playing double digit minutes in 7 straight games. Then just as suddenly he disappeared from the rotation and 13 combined minutes in UW’s final 4 games.
I knew that Battle was going to be raw and that while his shot was pure that he had some shot selection issues. Those were fully evident whenever he was on the court. Battle shot 36.4% on unguarded catch and shoot looks. That’s still not great for someone who is supposed to be an ace shooter but you can live with it. The problem came from shooting just 18% off the dribble and 26% on guarded catch and shoot looks. Battle had multiple games where he caught fire but Hop had to sit him down by the end of the year to show that some restraint was necessary.
The talent was clearly there for Battle and I could see him developing into an all Pac-12 caliber player by his senior year but he has to stop taking the Stephen Curry range shots in real games. He may be a good shooter but he’s not that good.
My Player Projections: 24 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 49.5/35.2/76.3% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 24.3 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 37.0/25.4/74.2% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “In my mind Bey is either the 5th or 6th best player on this team when everyone is available which means whether he is part of the starting or finishing lineup will depend upon the matchup.”
Worst Quote: “I’m expecting usage patterns similar to Dominic Green who didn’t start but was usually the first guy in off of the bench.”
I was 90% of the way to exactly nailing this prediction except for one small problem. Jamal Bey completely got the yips on offense about halfway through the season. In conference play Bey shot just 21.4% from 3-pt range and he lost all confidence in his shot. The Washington offense badly needed floor spacing once Quade Green went out and instead Bey passed up open shot after open shot over the final few weeks. After averaging almost 3 attempts per game during UW’s 9-game losing streak he attempted just 4 total over their final 5 games.
If he had shot the 35% that I expected him to on those shots then his season long numbers almost exactly match my predictions. Bey was destined to take over Matisse Thybulle’s role this year and he managed to fall about 20% short of Matisse’s production on both ends of the court. Jamal finished 1st in the conference in steal rate at the top of UW’s zone and was a plus player on that end. However he showed the same inconsistency on offense.
Barring a transfer in that is immediately eligible I would expect Bey to have a similar role next season except hopefully he will re-discover his shooting stroke. Dominic Green shot 28% from deep in his sophomore year and then shot 43% and 35% the next 2 years. It’s not impossible.
My Player Projections: 32 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, 46.7/34.6/66.7% FG/3pt/FT%
Actual Stats: 31 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 43.3/36.6/61.7% FG/3pt/FT%
Best Quote: “There was no question during the Italy exhibition tour that Carter had asserted himself as the dominant perimeter scorer on the Husky team with the loss of Jaylen Nowell. The Dawgs were however missing both Jaden McDaniels and Quade Green who are the two most likely candidates to challenge him for that role.”
Worst Quote: “In the biggest games of the year I don’t see Carter sitting for more than 3 minutes in a given half. His versatility on both sides of the court and his experience in the system will make him one of the most important drivers of team success whether he defers to Jaden McDaniels at times or not.”
Carter shot 5% worse from the free throw line than I expected and scored 2 fewer points per game but otherwise those numbers are fairly spot on. So why did this season feel like such a disappointment for Naz? I thought that Carter would wind up as the clear #2 scorer for this team and he ended up just behind Jaden for that title. It turns out that both had extremely similar play styles on offense and tended to get in one another’s way a lot leading to poor performance when they shared the court.
There were times where Naz took over games such as his 23 points outbursts against Baylor and Arizona State and a 16 point second half versus Washington State. But too often he didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball when he got it. Early in the season with Quade Green as the primary ball handler he was able to get the ball cutting to the basket or in transition for highlight reel dunks but those faded off throughout the year.
Carter was particularly frustrating in the open court where he consistently tried a Euro step move that almost always resulted in a charge. He also had difficulty from the foul line and at this point we have to accept he’s going to be 60-65% in that regard rather than a reliable guy to knock them down at the end of close games.
Even if he didn’t quite have the breakout year that I hoped for it still is important for the Huskies to have Naz come back for his senior year. Carter fell off Jonathan Givony’s latest Top 100 big board and given the unknowns associated with workouts prior to the NBA draft it seems almost a certainty he’d go undrafted should he leave a season early. With the dysfunction the team experienced this past season it wouldn’t be a shock to see him give it a go anyways but with the two leading scorers both gone off this team there’s a real chance for Carter to up his points per game over 15 next year and rebound in the NBA Draft rankings should he return.