Washington incoming freshman Andrew Andrews has been a pleasant surprise since his arrival three weeks ago. He’s been impressive in pickup and summer league games and some believe the 6-foot-2 point guard from Portland could challenge for significant minutes next season.
However, Andrews said Monday night he plans to redshirt the 2011-12 season, which leaves incoming freshman Tony Wroten Jr. as Washington’s only healthy point guard at the moment.
Andrews’ decision to redshirt leads to speculation Wroten or junior co-captain Abdul Gaddy will not return for the 2012-13 season and one of them will likely opt for the next year’s NBA draft. It also suggests Gaddy, who tore his left ACL on Jan. 4, will return for the start of the season.
If Gaddy is unavailable, senior co-captain Scott Suggs and incoming freshman Hikeem Stewart can run the offense, but they’re combo-guards whose strengths are scoring and not setting up teammates for shots.
“Me and (Coach Lorenzo) Romar talked about it and I’m pretty sure I’m going to redshirt,” Andrews said. “I’m pretty sure. Me and Romar came to this decision together. With Abdul being here and Tony, we have a lot of guards. So we talked splitting minutes between three guards and it would be a better fit if I redshirt.”
Andrews may sit out this season, but he’s not standing pat. He’s talked to senior co-captain Darnell Gant and sophomore C.J. Wilcox about the benefits of redshirting. Desmond Simmons also redshirted last season.
“I think it’s another chip on my shoulder,” Andrews said. “That makes me want to work that much harder. I got a year to develop and work on my game. I want to get stronger and quicker.
“Darnell said I don’t need to redshirt, but he told me everything I need to do to be that much better.”
There’s always a chance that once fall practices begin Andrews and Romar can reverse their decision, but it appears as if they’ve settled on a plan. It’s similar to Wilcox a couple of years ago. When he arrived, the sharp-shooting guard had a pretty good idea he’d redshirt. The Huskies could have used his three-point marksmanship in 2009-10, but Romar chose not to burn his eligibility.
It’s not a total shocker that Andrews is redshirting considering he was scheduled to attend prep school this season, but chose to enroll this fall when former UW star Isaiah Thomas left school with a year of eligibility remaining.
Still Andrews’ decision is somewhat surprising because he’s been one of the early standouts.
I’ve seen him on the floor with the Huskies on two occasions and he’s been a solid contributor. He’s even-keeled with outstanding court composure. He has quick feet and can stay in front of guys like Wroten defensively. He can be explosive and drive to the basket. And he can elevate for a quick-release outside jumper that’s fairly reliable.
Still but the best thing about Andrews is his ability to run the offense and distribute the ball. He makes proper passes at the right time and knows where the scorers are on his team.
“Andrew is a combination of Abdul and Isaiah,” Gant said. “He’s more like a smaller Gaddy though.”
Andrews averaged 24 points, five rebounds and five assists per game last season at Benson Tech and was Oregon’s 5A State Co-Player of the Year. He led Benson Tech to the 5A state title game, where he sank six three-pointers and scored 41 points in a 79-73 double-overtime defeat.
If Andrews redshirts, that leaves 12 available scholarship players. Last season, UW used rotated 10 players before Gaddy’s injury and nine during the second half of the season. Conceivably, two of the remaining five incoming freshmen may also redshirt.
It’s unlikely Wroten will redshirt so the candidates include Martin Breunig, Jernard Jarreau, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Stewart.
Depth concerns became an issue last season due to Gaddy’s injury and Venoy Overton’s suspension, so Romar may decide against redshirting anyone else.