We are now less than a week away from the first Men’s Basketball exhibition game against Saint Martin’s. That means it’s a good thing we have preview content for you! In case you missed it, in part one we ran through the primary guard options on the team. Now in part two we’ll look at the guard/wings. Not the clearest labelling but the first player we talk about today somewhat defies traditional labels with his size and role.
On we go!
SF 6’6 Paul Mulcahy (5th year), Transfer from Rutgers
2022-23 Stats (per game): 8.3 pts, 3.6 reb, 4.9 ast, 1.5 stl, 43.0% 2pt, 37.0% 3pt, 72.3% FT
Coming out of high school Mulcahy committed to his home state school of Rutgers over offers from UConn, Florida, and Marquette among others. He was the #151 ranked player in the 247 Sports Composite and a high 3-star. At 6’6 he started out playing a more traditional small forward role his first two seasons with about an 18% assist rate (high for a wing, low for a guard) and shooting 55%+ on 2-pointers.
As a junior, Mulcahy took over as a jumbo point guard and averaged 5.3 assists per game. He has never hit double digits scoring but has shot at least 33.3% on 3’s every season. But he much prefers to shoot inside the arc and his field goal percentage has dropped every year of his career.
Mulcahy was a bit of a surprise entry into the transfer portal and it was an even bigger surprise that he chose to join Washington to whom he had no ties. Rutgers people believe that NIL played a role in the decision. Regardless, the Huskies are glad to have him.
The last two years Mulcahy has been your prototypical big point guard. His most common play type was as the ball handler in the pick and roll but he much prefers to pass than shoot the ball. Mulcahy shot just 37% out of the P&R last year per Synergy Sports. He likes to calmly pull up at the free throw line and with his 6’6 frame can usually get off the shot against any smaller guard defender. The problem is that shot isn’t very efficient at the rate Mulcahy shoots it.
Things usually turn out better when Mulcahy shares the ball. He loves to look for the backdoor lob and you can expect to see plenty of dunks for Keion Brooks Jr. on Mulcahy passes. He’s also capable of making a nice entry pass which should be able to help put Braxton Meah in positions to succeed.
Fortunately, Mulcahy still provides utility even when he isn’t the primary ball handler which is needed given that Sahvir Wheeler will normally have the ball. Almost a quarter of his shots came in catch and shoot situations and he made 36% of his no dribble jumpers. That’s not an elite rate but is better than we’ve seen from most recent Huskies. If Mulcahy can continue to shoot better than 35% from deep then it should provide enough spacing to help support his passing gifts.
When Mulcahy is able to drive the ball he finishes at a solid rate but is a below the rim athlete. He only has one dunk over the past 2 seasons despite standing 6’6. Watching his layup attempts he’s adept at getting the ball up a little bit sooner than the defender expects so it can hit off the glass before the shot blocker can get their hands up.
Last year was Mulcahy’s best season from a steals perspective as he had a 2.9% steal rate (previous high was 2.1%). His points per possession numbers on defense graded out as almost exactly average overall. He particularly struggled though when trying to guard opposing ball handlers in the pick and roll. He doesn’t have the agility or athleticism to keep up in the open floor with particularly crafty guards.
Unsurprisingly, he performs better on defense when he is able to use his length to close out on shooters. Opponents shot just 34% on catch and shoot opportunities last year when Mulcahy was the nearest defender.
He’s also a little bit of a below average rebounder considering his height. Although some of that may be that he plays more of a primary ball handler than you normally see for players of his height which brings him to the perimeter frequently.
Expectations for 2023-24
Washington has had to deal with absences at the guard spot in recent years and rely on freshmen in their stead. The addition of Mulcahy late in the spring helped to ensure that the Huskies have requisite depth this season. It seems unlikely that he is going to be able to have a starting point guard role as he was accustomed to with Rutgers given the presence of Sahvir Wheeler. Still, he should have a place in the starting lineup and will be capable of keeping the offense running whenever Wheeler is on the bench.
The move to largely abandon the zone is a negative for bringing in Mulcahy as his size and passing combination seemed ideal in that defensive structure. We’ll see how well Washington is able to hold up defensively with both Mulcahy and Wheeler in the lineup. But their dual presence should keep the offense from ever getting bogged down to the extent it has in years past.
2023-24 Projected Stats: 6.5 pts, 3.6 reb, 3.1 ast, 1.1 stl, 46.2% 2pt, 35.0% 3pt, 77.6% FT
SG 6’4 Wesley Yates (1st year)
It’s not often you see the Huskies land a top-50 national recruit from the state of Texas but they did by getting Yates up to Seattle. The connection is clear as his cousin is UW assistant coach (and former star player) Quincy Pondexter and Yates cited his comfort with Q-Pon as one of the leading factors in his decision making.
It’s also clear to see why Yates is ranked as highly as he is. At a well built 6’4 Yates has a college-ready body from day one. He made the Texas 5A championship game his final 3 seasons in high school including a pair of titles. Yates’ averages improved from 14.5 pts and 3.5 reb as a sophomore to 19.7 and 4.0 as a junior and 20.1 and 4.4 as a senior. He shot around 36% from 3-point range and 80% from the free throw line throughout high school.
Yates is much more of a scoring guard than a true passer as he averaged just over 2 assists per game in high school with a close to even assist to turnover ratio.
Expectations for 2023-24
I’m always notoriously low in these projections for non-five-star true freshman guards. I vastly underestimated how much Jaylen Nowell and Keyon Menifield would play before both each instantly became integral floor generals in recent years. There’s certainly buzz about Yates and it would surprise no one if he quickly asserted himself into a player that has to see more of the floor.
At the same time, it’s tough to see how he cracks the starting lineup without an injury to one of the more experienced veterans on the team unless he truly is a draft pick type player from day one. I usually find it safer to assume that’s not the case but I’ve been bitten in the butt before.
There’s also the fact that Yates was dealing with an injury this summer and was unavailable during UW’s international trip. Mike Hopkins has said it’s not 100% that Yates will be available on opening night so it might take until conference play before he fully ramps up to where the coaching staff wants him to be.
2023-24 Projected Stats: 6.6 pts, 3.0 reb, 1.3 ast, 0.5 stl, 44.7% 2pt, 35.5% 3pt, 76.4% FT
SG 6’5 Anthony Holland (5th year), Transfer from Fresno State
2022-23 Stats (per game): 6.8 pts, 4.3 reb, 1.0 ast, 0.7 stl, 54.8% 2pt, 38.7% 3pt, 73.5% FT
There weren’t a lot of offers for Holland as an unrated prospect coming out of high school choosing between Fresno State or UC Riverside. He showed off his ability to contribute as a role player right away starting 7 games and shooting 39% from 3-point range coming off the bench although with a very low usage rate.
In the shortened Covid season Holland moved into the starting lineup and again had a low usage rate but this time saw his 3-point shot fall off to just 30%. That appears to be more of an anomaly as he shot 43% and 38% the next two seasons and is now 38% from deep for his career. Fresno State played a very undersized lineup last year and Holland was forced to essentially play power forward and spent time as the backup center at 6’5.
When Holland announced his transfer to Washington it wasn’t met with a ton of excitement. What good is a player from Fresno State who averaged fewer than 7 points per game? Never mind that Braxton Meah hardly played for Fresno and then broke out to have a standout season in his first action for the Huskies.
That comparison isn’t exactly fair given that Meah’s lack of playing time was because he played behind the MWC player of the year while Holland has been nothing but a role player for 4 years. That may be true but you need role players and Holland is an ideal role player.
Holland’s percentage of shots taken year-by-year through his career has been 9.8%, 13.3%, 15.3%, and 12.3%. Last year Braxton Meah was the only major Husky rotation player to have a usage rate below 16% for context. When Holland does shoot the ball though it has a pretty good chance of going through the hoop. He shot 44% on unguarded catch and shoot opportunities last season which is something UW’s offense has badly needed.
It’s a good thing that Holland is a quality shooter because that’s just about the extent of his offensive repertoire. 84% of his shots last year were jump shots and the remaining shots almost all came either in transition or on putback attempts.
I noted in the intro for Holland that he has been forced to play as an undersized power forward and sometimes even a small ball center while with Fresno. That won’t be the case at Washington where a team bus would have to crash for that to become necessary. Because of that it makes it hard to assess Holland’s defensive prowess. He ranked in just the 17th percentile in opposing points per possession per Synergy but he played almost all of those possessions while out of position.
Opponents shot 61% posting up over Holland and shot 38% when taking jump shots over him as a smaller defender. His previous three seasons Holland graded out as closer to an average defender so there’s hope that when guarding players of a similar size and position that he’ll improve in that regard.
Expectations for 2023-24
Washington has 10 players on this roster who seem like they should reasonably compete for playing time. There’s no way that Mike Hopkins goes the entire season running a 10-man rotation. That means someone has to fall by the wayside. Realistically that decision will be made by injuries but if everyone is healthy then I see Holland perhaps being the odd man out.
His shooting is certainly a valuable skill and we may get to the point where he has to play simply because no one else can make an outside shot. But I think the three younger guards all add a little more to the table and that the addition of Mulcahy late in the spring may have taken away Holland’s shot at consistent playing time. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if Holland’s veteran presence ends up being valued over at least one of Yates/Koren/Calmese but I’m going to start out assuming they get a little more run.
2023-24 Projected Stats: (15 games) 4.0 pts, 2.2 reb, 0.5 ast, 1.1 stl, 37.5% 2pt, 37.1% 3pt, 75.0% FT