Got word on Tuesday that William Howard’s appeal was denied and he is not going to have eligibility to play NCAA basketball. He will be headed back to France soon looking to sign a professional contract. It’s disappointing on many levels since Howard’s game seemed particularly well-suited to Romar’s style. But, making the transition from Europe to college ball can be quite tricky sometimes. Whether there are issues with high school core courses transferring over, or mastering the SAT when English is not your first language, or amateur status issues when most teenagers in Europe play for junior teams of professional clubs and thus it can be difficult to differentiate whether a player was being paid a salary or just having travel expenses reimbursed.
So, at this stage, Romar has lost a chance at a 6’9″ forward who likes to play on the outside. Next up? How about another 6’9″ Frenchman who instead enjoys banging down low. Mouhammado Jaiteh was on campus last week visiting UW and then headed off to visit Gonzaga. Jaiteh is a member of the French National Junior Team with Howard and also attended INSEP with Howard as well.
Howard described his game as being a strong rebounder and someone who can score. Last year at the U18 European Championships, Jaiteh averaged 11.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 9 games. For his INSEP team he averaged 14.3 points and 10.2 rebounds in in nearly 30 minutes in 29 games.
But, while Jaiteh was certainly interested enough in playing college ball in America to take a visit to the state of Washington, according to the website European Prospects it seems unlikely Jaiteh will come to America either.
According to @ChristopheEPcom , it is doubtful that Mam Jaiteh will play college ball despite visiting Gonzaga & UW.He will likely go pro.
— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) June 5, 2012
So, where does this leave Lorenzo Romar? One again in the all-too-familiar position of being able to sign top-notch guards, but desperately seeking big men to compliment them. With the graduation of Darnell Gant and with status of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins far from clear, it appears that the depth on the front line is potentially dangerously thin. The Huskies have one forward with actual proven experience upfront in redshirt sophomore Desmond Simmons. The Huskies return two sophomores in Shawn Kemp Jr. and Martin Bruenig, both of which did not play well last year and we have to hope that they are able to have a major sophomore bounce. Then, there is the unproven commodity of redshirt freshman Jernard Jarreau. A 6’10″ former guard who likes to shoot from outside and weighs under 200 lbs. Whether he is able to bulk up, learn to play inside, and can master the defense may be a big deciding factor on how good these Huskies are next year.
Since we have not yet heard about any other potential big men out there that might sign in 2012, many Husky fans may indeed get their wish of having Romar keep that scholarship for the massive class of 2013. With the early commitment of Nigel Williams-Goss, it is certainly a nice start. There might be three other scholarships available (2 for sure) and maybe even four if someone like Hikeem Stewart were to transfer in the face of competition with Andrews, Williams-Goss, and possibly another big name recruit. Clearly Romar will need to make sure one of those is for a big. While everyone salivates at likely one-and-done forward Aaron Gordon, I think UW also needs to invest in a longer term replacement up front for Aziz N’Diaye and/or a power forward.
Or, perhaps Romar will replace Aziz N’Diaye with another Senegalese basketball play of the name with 7’5″ Mamadou Ndiaye, who is dominating high school hoops down in Southern California or 7’1″ Cheikh N’Diaye, who is currently playing down in San Diego. But, whatever happens, it is now time to turn the page on William Howard and hope the Huskies can find someone to help fill the lane for the next few years.