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Will Perris Blackwell Play Next Year? The answer affects both 2012 and 2013!

With William Howard off the board due to ineligibility, and it seemingly unlikely that Mamoudou Jaiteh will come to the states to play college ball, the Huskies still have a scholarship available for 2012. But, after spending quite some time scanning the internet for any other possible recruits that would fit a need (forward or center), I have come to the conclusion that the Huskies probably will not sign anyone else for this 2012 class. There are still some quality unsigned players out there like Chris Obekpa, Jordan Tebbutt, and Norvel Pelle. But, all of them appear to have either eliminated the Huskies already or the Huskies eliminated them. One intriguing name has always been 6’5″ Tebbutt of Canby, Oregon. Given Romar’s success in recruiting the Portland area and Tebbutt’s hype early in his high school career, he seemed like a real possibility. But, rumor has it the Huskies soured on him after he stopped developing on the court the last couple of years and stopped growing. He ended up being a 6’5″ power forward, which is fine in high school, but doesn’t translate so well in college. In addition, a few other schools looking at him, including Washington State, seemed to have backed away as well. As of now, there is no information about what Tebbutt may end up doing.

So, the Huskies appear to have their roster set for 2012 and will likely save that last scholarship for the big 2013 class. That is, unless the Huskies are able to pull someone out of the blue, for instance an unknown from Europe at the last instant. But, based on last year’s experiences, Romar may not want to go that route with a project player who may not pan out. Romar desperately scoured the country (heck the world) for a big man last year and ended up with Shawn Kemp Jr. and Martin Bruenig. Not that these two won’t ultimately end up being really good players. But, given the known lack of depth up front at the time and Romar’s need to fill it, these two did not end up making the big difference in their freshman year, despite ample opportunities we all hoped for. In the end, it was a football player who was not even recruited to play college basketball who took on the roll of the front line enforcer by the name of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins who got more minutes and made more of an impact than either Kemp or Bruenig.

Despite the fact that it seems pretty much certain that this last scholarship will remain unfilled, there has always been one big wild card that could both make-or-break the 2012-13 season, but will also impact the recruiting class of 2013. That wild card is what happens with Perris Blackwell. The University of San Francisco transfer has one year of eligibility left. If he could somehow manage to earn his degree by the end of the summer from USF, then he would be eligible to play for UW this  upcoming season. If that were the case, then he would have a chance to be a real impact player to play alongside or substitute in for Aziz N’Diaye. He would definitely help solve the depth issue up front for the upcoming season.

The added bonus if Blackwell were to play next year, would be to free up the scholarship he is occupying for the 2013 recruiting class. As of now, the Huskies have three scholarships available for 2013 (with the graduation of Gaddy, N’Diaye, and Suggs). One of those scholarships is currently slated for Nigel Williams-Goss who committed to the Huskies on May 30th. That would leave two slots open to cover a massive recruiting class of 4 and 5-star players including familiar names like Jabari Parker, Jabari Bird, Aaron Gordon, Issac Hamilton, Marcus Lee, Kyle Washington, Elliot Pitts, Goodluck Okonoboh, Jordan Bell, Chance Murray, Zach LaVine (probably UCLA), and the Robinson twins (probably on football scholarships).

Of course, not all of these players will want to come to UW and even if they did, the competition for playing time with players at this level, and with the egos of kids today, would mean that many wouldn’t come as soon as another at their same position committed. But, it sure would be nice if Romar could land 3 or 4 of these players and build a completely balanced team, rather than one just focused on guards.

But, assuming Romar does not use this last scholarship, it would be available for 2013, allowing him to fill three more spots beyond Williams-Goss. If Blackwell were to play in 2012, then his scholarship would also open up, allowing Romar to fill four more spots in 2013. One has to think that having a pass-first point guard already in the fold would be a huge incentive for some of these other players to choose UW.

But, will Blackwell fill our need for front-court depth in 2012 or will he be one of our one-and-done players of 2013 to fill in after Aziz graduates?

I became very intrigued with this question when I saw the following tweet:

It is always dangerous to read too much into a tweet. Did Blackwell mean he is moving up on July 18th or just “coming up” for a visit? If he were to mean moving, it would seem unlikely that Blackwell would plan on moving up to UW on July 18th if he were taking classes at USF in an attempt to graduate in time to play this season. So, I tweeted him and asked him directly. Here is his response:

 

While most people would assume a player would want to play as soon as possible, maybe he sees the potential for more playing time and more of an immediate impact after Aziz graduates, as well as, the potentially amazing crew of talent around him if Romar is able to bring some of these one-and-done NBA level players to Montlake for 2013. Heck, maybe Romar even recommended that he hold off until the 2013-14 season. And while 2012-13 could potentially be a painful year for Husky fans, maybe in the bigger scheme of things having a veteran frontline presence to compliment the youth that will be coming in 2013 might just be the tipping point that turns the Huskies from a solid to an elite team.

But, even with Blackwell sitting out for 2012-13, there are still two other very distinct possibilities that could free up another scholarship for the 2013 recruiting class. The first is that C.J. Wilcox may very well explode next year to the point where he would enter the NBA draft. People have been talking about this possibility for some time now. Wilcox has a lot of the tools to be successful in the NBA. After next year, he would have been in the program for four years and might not feel he has anything else left to prove. In addition, if Romar really were able to land players like Gordon and Parker, then Wilcox might feel his possibility to shine in his final season might be diminished, much like IT probably thought about last year with Wroten arriving. It worked out for IT, so maybe Wilcox will take the same route.

Another possibility is a scholarship opening up due to transfer. People do not like to talk about transfers, but they do happen quite frequently, and not always for reasons that are clear. In fact, there are more than 400 Division I transfers occurring this off-season, which averages out to more than 1 per team. Sometimes players transfer because they want more playing time, sometimes they have conflicts with other players or coaches, and sometimes they are just homesick. If a Hikeem Stewart realized he won’t get much playing time behind Andrews, Mclaughlin, Williams-Goss, and maybe a player like Bird, he could be a candidate. Perhaps Bruenig will get homesick or never quite fit in. Maybe Jarreau will want to return down south. You just never know what will happen. But, if anyone does transfer, that could open up a 4th available scholarship as well, even if both Wilcox and Blackwell are still on the team in 2013-14.

It certainly will be interesting to watch…

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Tags: Lorenzo Romar Nigel Williams-Goss Perris Blackwell Washington Huskies

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