Redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau began the season winning a four-man competition at power forward with Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Martin Breunig.
He started the first seven games before losing his job to Simmons.
After 16 games as a reserve, he lost his spot in the rotation and didn’t play in the two previous games before Saturday’s contest against Oregon State.
The 6-10 forward tallied eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and seven rebounds – both career highs – in 21 minutes while helping Washington to a 72-62 victory. It was his longest stint on the court since Nov. 28.
Jarreau’s performance warrants an encore Wednesday when the Huskies visit No. 12 Arizona, coach Lorenzo Romar said Monday on his radio show.
“He earned the right to come back in there and get some minutes in the Arizona series,” Romar said. “The last time we played Arizona, he didn’t play very much but he got in there against them.”
Jarreau played four unproductive minutes in the first half of a 57-53 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 31 at Alaska Airlines Arena. He attempted just one shot, committed a foul and didn’t get off the bench in the second half. The scoreless outing was one of six straight games Jarreau failed to register a point before the game against OSU.
“To Jernard’s credit, he stayed ready,” Romar said. “Even though he didn’t play in the last game, when his number got called he went in and made the best of it.”
Jarreau is averaging 2.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 13 minutes in 23 games. He’s not expected to replace Kemp as a starter, but could steal minutes from reserve Simmons.
At 6-10 and 220 pounds, Jarreau can be a matchup problem on both ends of the court because of his height, 7-foot-7 wingspan and ball-handling skills.
“He provides something that we don’t have as much,” Romar said. “There’s not a lot of guys on our roster that has size, but is yet is skilled and is a good passer and a good defender. He’s a pretty mobile defender. He blocks shots. He gets deflections. It had just been a matter of him maybe not being strong enough at certain times. Having a lot of activity, but maybe not enough achievement.
“That was keeping him off the floor, but if he’s going to do what he did the other night, he can be very valuable for our team.”
Jarreau has always been an intriguing prospect. He was an unheralded recruit out of McDonogh 35 High in New Orleans, where he averaged 17.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks as a senior. He originally committed to Virginia Commonwealth before picking Washington.
In 2011, he reported to UW weighing 195 pounds and redshirtedas a freshman to add weight and muscle on a rail-thin frame.
“We thought Jernard had all types of potential and he still does,” Romar said. “We thought as he got stronger, as he put on weight, as he learned the game, as he learned our system that he could be a really special player and we still believe that.
“His time is going to come. It may have come in the game that we just played to where that is the beginning of it. But his time is going to come. He’s going to be a really great Husky before it’s all said and done.