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April 9, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Wolfinger transfer official

Had a chance to talk quickly this morning with UW coach Lorenzo Romar and he said Joe Wolfinger has made it official that he will leave the Huskies to transfer to a Division-II school.
UW coaches have met with all of the team’s players over the last week or so and the decision was made then. Romar said Wolfinger had not yet picked a D-II school to attend. He will be immediately eligible to play at a D-II school.
Wolfinger remains enrolled at UW for the spring quarter and will finish up his degree, Romar said.
The reason for Wolfinger’s transfer is obvious — he wants to go somewhere he can play to finish out his career.
The 7-foot center from Aloha, Ore., played just 94 minutes in 16 games this season, scoring 39 points.
And his time decreased drastically after the first three games of the season. Wolfinger played nine minutes or more in each of the first three games, including 22 in a win over eventual NCAA tourney team Cleveland State, scoring 12 points.
But as Darnell Gant cemented his role in the starting lineup and Matthew Bryan-Amaning returned from injury to become the first big man off the bench, Wolfinger lost his place in the rotation.
“We’ve been successful with those bigs who have been versatile and very quick on defense,” Romar said earlier in the seaon. “It’s nothing against Joe at all.. But again, we’ve played some of the best defense this year since we’ve been here and it has something to do with the lineup we have out there.”
And with Charles Garcia Jr. and Clarence Trent coming in next season, there was no guarantee Wolfinger would see more time next year despite the loss of Jon Brockman.
Wolfinger arrived at UW in 2005 amid much fanfare, part of the seven-man recruiting class that also included Jon Brockman and Martell Webster. He redshirted his first year to add weight to a then 240-pound frame and work on his inside game, then missed the following season while battling a foot injury. That led to speculation Wolfinger might appeal for a sixth year of eligibility, but that has not happened to date — it’s possible that’s something he could still do once he picks a Division-II school.
He had some breakout moments as a sophomore in 2008, including a career-high 17 in a win at Cal that had Romar extremely optimistic about Wolfinger’s future, saying at one point he didn’t think it unrealistic Wolfinger could play in the NBA.
But as UW’s style shifted again this season to a quicker, more athletic team Wolfinger’s unique skill set — a 7-footer whose strength was three-point shooting — just couldn’t work its way into the rotation.
Wolfinger’s transfer now closes the books for UW on that 2005 class that also included Roburt Sallie (who never got eligible at UW and later played at Memphis), Harvey Perry (who transferred after sparing playing time, ending up at Colorado State), Justin Dentmon and Artem Wallace, who each finished up their eligibility this season.
One possible destination for Wolfinger is Chaminade University in Hawaii, where two former Huskies played this season — Joel Smith and Zach Johnson, who signed with the Huskies in 2004 but never played while battling knee injuries. Smith averaged 15.3 points a game there this year while earning first team Pac West All-Conference honors. Johnson averaged 1.8 points in 16 games. However, Wolfinger may prefer to stay closer to home.
Romar is in Portsmouth today where he will watch Jon Brockman play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. I’ll have more on that tournament later.

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