This is part I of a two part series looking at the next set of Husky basketball players who have a chance to join the long line of Husky greats taken in the NBA draft. Part I will focus on the incoming seniors, while Part II will look at the underclassmen possibilities…
On Thursday night, the Washington Huskies saw two players taken in the first round of the NBA draft. Terrence Ross was taken at #8 by the Toronto Raptors, while Tony Wroten was taken at the #25 spot by the Memphis Grizzlies. This is the first time in Husky history that two players on the team were taken in the 1st round. It is still amazing to me that a team with two first round caliber players missed out on the NCAA tournament. But, that’s a discussion for a different day. Lorenzo Romar has certainly been able to maintain a pretty good stream of players being taken in the NBA draft.
Since the 2004-05 season, Romar he has seen nine of his players selected in the NBA draft. And usually there is at least one every year. Let’s take a look at his track record.
In 2005, Nate Robinson was taken in the 1st round with the 21st pick.
In 2006, Brandon Roy was taken in the 1st round with the #6 pick, while Bobby Jones was taken in the 2nd round with the 47th pick. Will Conroy went undrafted, but has played on various 10-day contracts in the NBA while bouncing around the D-League and international leagues.
In 2007, Spencer Hawes was taken with the 10th pick of the 1st round.
In 2008, no one selected.
In 2009, Jon Brockman was taken in the 2nd round of the NBA draft with the 38th pick overall. In addition, while undrafted, Justin Dentmon was able to make his way up through a couple international leagues and the D-league into the NBA on a few short-term contracts.
In 2010, Quincy Pondexter was taken with the 26th pick of the 1st round.
In 2011, Isaiah Thomas was taken with the 60th and last pick of the NBA draft.
So, 9 players have been taken in the last 8 drafts and only in one of those years no players were selected. That is a pretty good track record for potential recruits to look at. Everyone talks about how John Calipari has a track record of getting players to the NBA. But, really, does anyone really believe that these 5-star one-and-done prima donas wouldn’t have gotten to the NBA without Calipari’s help? But, with Romar a number of his players were 4-year players who really did need the time to “develop”.
Thus, it leads us to the inevitable discussion of who will be the next Husky great to get the call from the NBA. There are essentially two questions to ask here. First, are there any players on the current roster who look like definite NBA talent for the 2013 draft? And second, will Romar get any of the one-and-done players in the 2013 recruiting class that would enter the draft in 2014?
First, let’s examine the current roster. In this article, I am focusing on the three seniors on the roster who will definitely be hoping that the NBA comes calling next summer. In Part II, I will examine the underclassmen to see who else might be possibilities to be drafted in 2013 or 2014.
When you look at the seniors on the roster, you have Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, and Aziz N’Diaye. Since this is their final year of eligibility, each of them will hope to get the call to the NBA next year. It is their last chance to shine, to show improvement on the things they need to work on, and wow the scouts with their athleticism, potential, leadership. Last, but not least, they must demonstrate that they are winners. This is a season of unknowns in 2012-13. Will this team with arguably less talent be able to get to the NCAA tournament, while the team with two first round picks could not? Getting to the Big Dance will likely depend on whether these three seniors have the kind of season that will also get them into the NBA draft.
Let’s start with the team’s starting point guard Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy has been somewhat of an enigma for Husky fans since he arrived. Gaddy was a highly touted 5-star recruit, rated the #2 point guard in the nation out of high school. He originally committed to Arizona for Lute Olsen. But, once Olsen decided to retire, he decided to stay closer to home. Many figured he would be a one-and-done type player, except that that wasn’t an option since he was too young to enter the draft. In fact, he was the youngest player in all of Division I in the country that year.
But, after a pretty disappointing freshman season, many people chalked it up to age (he was only 17) and inexperience. Gaddy did show some improvement during his sophomore year until he suffered that torn ACL early in the year that knocked him out of the rest of the season. Gaddy came back last year as the starting PG and played more minutes than any other Husky player. He was reliable and durable and definitely started to grow into the position. With a roster full of high fliers, but with no obvious leaders, you could see him grow more and more into that role of elder statesman as the season wore on.
Gaddy seemed comfortable as a play-maker, but definitely lacked much of the necessary explosiveness to be an effective scorer. He improved his outside shooting, but seemed to struggle taking defenders off the dribble or defending quicker guards. It will be interesting to see if he can finally blossom into the 5-star recruit that he was hyped as 3 years ago. This is his last chance to show NBA scouts that he has a future in the league. Currently, he has gone from a sure-fire NBA prospect to missing from the Mock Boards of both DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.com. He will definitely need to show the same level of reliability, improved leadership, and improved scoring ability to get himself back on the board.
Aziz N’Diaye is another senior with a shot at an NBA career. In fact, his chances of playing in the league may be even better than Gaddy’s. While Aziz clearly has his limitations on the offensive end, his size and athleticism is definitely something that NBA scouts are looking for. As the old saying goes “you can’t teach height”. But, it goes beyond that. He is so strong and muscular, that he is very difficult to move out of the post and his ability to run the floor will be very effective in breaking up fast breaks and getting down the floor for rebounds on the offensive side. He could still use some improvement on his footwork, but his athleticism gives him the ability to recover when out of position to disrupt opponent’s shots.
While shooting 38% from the free throw line is not very encouraging, his ability to take up space on the defensive end and intimidate guards who drive into the lane could prove quite useful at the next level. His solid minutes on a team without much front line depth last year helped relieve some of the injury concerns by NBA scouts, but his propensity to foul too much has to keep them concerned. Hopefully Aziz will be able to stay out of foul trouble this year, he will improve somewhat on his post play and offensive skills, and he will be able to continue to show his durability. Currently, NBADraft.com has him as the #56 player taken, which is late in the 2nd round. But, DraftExpress.com does not have him on the board. If undrafted, I do think Aziz might be able to carve out a niche in the NBA as an undrafted free agent.
Scott Suggs is someone who is not really being talked about right now in the NBA draft. After redshirting last season, it is difficult to really know what we are going to get from him. After the former Mr. Basketball from Missouri arrived at UW, he had a disappointing freshman season (which many people, including me, felt he should have redshirted), an improved sophomore year, and a promising junior year. While he is certainly a good shooter from outside and a solid defender, his ability to dribble and run the offense need work. He needs to take on more of a leadership role next year, and needs to be a threat to drive to the basket with his tall athletic frame and ability to pass out of traffic. A lot of people are excited to see what he will look like in this 5th year. He could potentially have a real breakout season with the absence of obvious scorers ahead of him like Ross and Wroten. He biggest competition for touches and shots will come from CJ Wilcox. But, being more featured on offense could give him a chance to shine. But, I don’t believe that even a big time season would get him into the NBA draft . I think he could have a chance to make it someday, but it would likely similar to the route taken by Dentmon and Conroy via the D-League. Or, more likely he’ll carve out a nice little career overseas.
So, of the current crop of seniors, I see Aziz N’Diaye as the most likely to be drafted. Tomorrow, I’ll look at who else might make it among the rest of the roster.