True or false? Washington has one player who is both all-conference and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
If you nonchalantly said, “True,” thinking only of Tony Wroten, your answer would be partially true, that is, false.
But it’s a trick question.
Washington actually has two players who were all-conference and received the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award.
The other player?
Women’s guard Jazmine Davis.
ESPN / GurlzHoops rated Davis the 25th best 2011 point guard in the nation while she was in high school, and her high school coach, Anna Basanese, said Davis was underrated. Academically oriented, other schools pursuing Davis were Princeton and Dartmouth. Husky Head Coach Kevin McGuff said that what separates Davis from other freshmen is “…she’s really, really coachable and mature beyond her years.” When Washington recruited Davis, Basanese said of Davis, “She’s a very special player, very versatile with a great knowledge of the game.”
That versatility is evident off the court as well. Wroten doesn’t have a black belt in karate but Davis does. Wroten is not a pianist but Davis is.
Although her dream as a little girl was to become an army sniper (we’re not making that up), Davis now intends to become a nurse (a dramatic career change). Even after the resignation of former Husky coach Tia Jackson who recruited Davis, the University of Washington School of Nursing – ranked first among American secular universities since 1984 – kept Davis committed to the Huskies. To Davis’s credit, it was essentially the nursing school to which she committed.
The Husky women’s team does not get significant press but that should begin to change next winter.
Coach McGuff will have his leading scorer (16.5 ppg ave.), sophomore-to-be Davis who ranked fourth in the nation among freshman in scoring (having scored 20 or more points eight times this past season), and his assist leader, junior-to-be Mercedes Wetmore, back next year. Both are athletic, fast guards with good court vision. Think Gaddy and Wroten.
Another reason for optimism is the return of 2011 all-conference wing Kristi Kingma who averaged 15.6 ppg and set a new team record for 3-pointers during her junior season while also playing lock-down defense. Think Ross or Wilcox. Kingma was expected to be the Husky leader until she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a 2011 preseason game. She will be back for her senior year of eligibility. She’s been on the bench this past season but has been learning Coach McGuff’s system and expects to come back strong.
While the Washington women will miss the 6’ 3” duo of center Regina Rogers and forward MacKenzie Argens next winter, the Huskies will return 6’ 2” sophomore Talia Walton (AP Washington 4A Player of the Year in 2011) and 6’ 0” sophomore Aminah Williams. And Coach McGuff, like men’s Head Coach Lorenzo Romar, is in the hunt for recruits that are both fast and effective in the paint. In spite of the loss of Rogers and Argens, with some incoming talent and improved overall team play and speed, Washington’s record should improve next season.
Like the Husky men went to the NIT, the women secured a WNIT berth. The women won their first three games – Cal Poly, Utah and Oregon State – but lost 58 – 47 to the University of San Diego in the fourth game in spite of Rogers’ 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Husky women are still three or four players away from being a force in the Pac-12. They don’t have quality depth or overall team speed needed to compete head-to-head with Stanford and California presently, and it showed in the loss to USD when the better players including Davis, in spite of their will to win, began to tire toward the end of the game.
It will take a while for the Husky women to catch up with Stanford but it is important to note that the team has a decent nucleus of players returning, and patience will be rewarded. Coach McGuff’s first season at Washington was better than Romar’s first season and, obviously, Romar has done well since.
Recruiting, as Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari continually demonstrates, is the initial key. In the meantime there are, as stated above, reasons for optimism.
The Husky women’s 2011-2012 season record was 20 – 14 (13 – 6 at home) with 10 of those losses in Pac-12 play. It was their first 20-win season, however, since Husky multiple-record holder Giuliana Mendiola’s senior year in 2003. During the off-season, the team will live in 1) the gym better learning Coach McGuff’s system, game nuances and one another, and 2) the weight room improving speed, quickness, verticals and core strength. The Husky women expect to come out next fall better prepared to win than at the beginning of this past season, McGuff’s first at Washington.
An additional reason for optimism is McGuff knows what it takes to win, having compiled a 214-73 record in nine seasons with six trips to the NCAA tournament (the other three were WNIT years) before coming to Washington. Xavier players were understandably not happy when he left. As the Husky women become acclimated to McGuff’s system, improve individually, and overall talent and depth improve, Washington’s ladies should also be regularly invited to the Dance.
Meanwhile, with the addition of a few more talented players, there are reasons to believe 2012 – 2013 could be a break-out season for the Husky women’s team.