Photo credit: USA Basketball
Had a chance to check-in with Washington guard Abdul Gaddy (above, left) on Monday night after his first day practicing with the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team.
The three-day training camp involving 19 players began Monday in San Antonio to find 12 players who will compete in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship that will be held June 26-30 at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Gaddy is in a comfortable role because he’s the oldest player on the team, whereas last season he was the youngest player in the Pac-10. His goals are to win a gold medal and regain his confidence, which he admits took a hit last season.
“I think I’ll be a lot better player and I’ll be the player that a lot of people expect me to be,” Gaddy said.
Husky incoming freshman Desmond Simmons (above, middle) is also at the camp and Gaddy believes he’s ready to contribute for UW next season on the defensive end. Also check out the Simmons’ new look. Per UW team rules, he had to cut his dreadlocks.
(I know it’s only been one practice, but how are things going?) “It’s been great. We just got done with our first session. We just worked hard. It’s good to play against some of these players and I’m just having fun out here.”
(What’s it like being the old guy in training camp?) “It helps me to become more of leader. I get to help mentor these guys. I’ve played in the college game and they haven’t so I get to show them some of the things that I’ve learned, especially like work ethic and those types of things. But I’m just out here trying to have fun. I’m trying to get better as well. I’m trying to get better for next season.”
(What do you want to accomplish in San Antonio?) “I want to win a gold medal. And I kind of want to get my swagger back. I think I kind of lost it a little bit last season so I think that this will build my confidence back up.”
(Why did you lose your swagger?)
“I never really lost it, it was just more of a learning season for me. So I think in this type of setting, I get to dominate in this type of setting and just try to lead these guys and win a gold medal. So I can become more of a leader, more of a mentor and just more of a dominant player.”
(How will you be different next season?) “I’ll be more of a leader. I’ll have a lot better shooting percentage [Gaddy shot .417 from the field, .150 on three-pointers and .564 at the free throw line] then I showed last season. I’ve been working a lot on my shot. I think I’ll be a lot better player and I’ll be the player that a lot of people expect me to be.”
(I heard you’ve been working with former UW sharpshooter Ryan Appleby. How much has that helped?) “It helped a lot because he helped me with my mechanics. He also helped me get my confidence back in my shot. He just helped me with a lot of things. He told me some important things about my shot to help me get more consistent. He’s a great teacher.”
(From you’ve seen of Simmons, how has he impressed you?) “He just works hard. He’s a hard worker on the court. He grabs all the rebounds. He makes a lot of hustle plays. He just has a hard motor. He doesn’t stop playing, doesn’t stop going hard. I think that’s great for him.”
(Does he remind you of anyone?) “A lot of Justin Holiday.”
(How do you think Simmons will fit in next season at Washington?) “I think he’ll contribute in a lot of special ways, especially going hard on defense. I don’t think he’ll contribute right away probably on the offensive end. I think that’s probably the thing he has to work on the most. But defensively with all of the hustle plays he makes and the way we play defense, I think he’s ready already. He’s ready in that category.”
(What are your thoughts on the recruiting season?) “I think we had a great recruiting class. We got three great players that can help us next season. I think we’re ready to make a great push to try to go farther next season. Maybe an Elite Eight or Final Four or maybe a national championship. Next season we’re going to go in as the underdog and we’re going to try to work hard and do the best we can.”
(Have you had a chance to get on the court with newcomers Aziz N’Diaye and Terrence Ross?) “No. Not at all.”