With the start of training camp just a few days away, thought I’d throw out a few questions this week as the college basketball season approaches.
It was interesting to see which Huskies were picked to grace the covers of regional college basketball preview magazines the past few weeks. Lindy’s Sports chose Aziz N’Diaye and Athlon Sports tabbed C.J. Wilcox.
Meanwhile Abdul Gaddy will represent Washington at the Pac-12 Media Day on Nov. 1 in San Francisco.
You could make a strong case that each player is the most important person on a team that lost its two leading scorers. Heck, you could also throw Scott Suggs, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp Jr. and a few others into the conversation.
And keep in mind we’re talking about the most important player and not the best player on the team. One could argue, Wilcox is the most talented Husky who NBAdraft.net projects will be taken at No. 26 in the 2013 NBA draft. He’s the leading returning scorer who averaged 14.2 points.
However, that doesn’t mean Wilcox is the most important player because Suggs has similar traits and the Huskies have more depth at guard than any other position.
N’Diaye will garner votes because the 7-foot center is unquestionably Washington’s best defensive player on the front line. Given his offensive deficiencies and the fact that he’s returning from an wrist injury, it’s anyone’s guess if N’Diaye will ascend beyond being a good role player to the point where he consistently carries the team on both ends of the court.
And there’s a healthy debate about Gaddy’s ability to finally take over and lead the Huskies, which has been the plan ever since coach Lorenzo Romar thrust him into the starting lineup three years ago as a 17-year-old freshman.
He’s a senior and with all due respect to redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews and sophomore Hikeem Stewart, Gaddy will be unchallenged at the point guard position for the first time in his UW tenure.
It appears as if Wilcox will be given every opportunity to lead Washington offensively and fill the scoring void created when Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. left early for the NBA. Washington will need Wilcox to score points and it’s possible he’ll be the first Husky to average 20 points since Brandon Roy did it in 2005-06. Still the Huskies are fortunate to have a few others who can score if Wilcox is having a cold night.
Given what we’ve seen from N’Diaye the past two years, it’s unreasonable to think he’ll break out and become a big-time scoring threat. His career scoring average is 6.1 points and his career best is 15. He also shoots 54.3-percent at the free throw line, which makes it difficult to rely on him in crunch time.
Many believe Gaddy is the unknown variable to either a NCAA tournament appearance or a return to the NIT. He had a nice showing during Washington’s overseas trip and led the Huskies with a 13.5 scoring average.
And given the state of the Pac-12, you could say Gaddy is one of the best point guards in the conference. The other candidates include: Stanford’s Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, California’s Justin Cobbs, Arizona’s Mark Lyons, UCLA’s Larry Drew, Colorado’s Askia Booker, USC’s Jio Fontan, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Oregon’s Dominic Artis.
Not sure if Gaddy is the best PG in the Pac-12, but if he’s able to elevate his game and becomes an all-conference kind of player, then he’ll make life easier for Wilcox, N’Diaye and others.
So if we’re establishing a pecking order based on importance, I’d start Gaddy.
But what do you think?
Who is Washington’s most important player?
MONDAY AFTERNOON LINKS:
— Coach Lorenzo Romar, an advocate against domestic violence, spoke at an event last week about his abusive father. In a story written by Lauren LeMieux from The Daily, Romar said this about his dad: “He was my hero; he was my little brother’s hero. He could do no wrong in our eyes, except when he drank, he became our other dad.”
— UCLA junior guard Tyler Lamb will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair loose cartilage in his left knee and will be out 4-6 six weeks. He averaged 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33 games last season.
— California redshirt sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow underwent surgery to repair an injury to his right foot. He’s expected to return in 6-8 weeks.
— The Pac-12 takes a look at 12 players to watch.