It feels like just yesterday when every Husky fan was cheering because heralded five-star recruit, Abdul Gaddy had just committed to stay home and play for Washington.
At first it looked unlikely as the point guard had already committed to Arizona twice, but he then decommitted for a second and final time. This time he chose Lorenzo Romar’s program and didn’t look back, though four years later, he may have regretted his decision.
Choosing the local school brings added pressure for a recruit to perform after the fans have seen him dominate the high school scene for four years. We have now learned pressure isn’t Abdul Gaddy’s strong suit.
Gaddy was Romar’s first five-star coup on the recruiting trail. With that came lofty expectations; he joined a squad that was coming off of a 26-win season and a conference championship. Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon were on their ways out, but a recruiting class that included Gaddy, Clarence Trent and C.J. Wilcox was supposed to make the transition seamlessly.
In a sense, they did, looking at the 26 wins and Sweet 16 appearance. Take a closer look and you will see the newcomers brought next-to-nothing to the table. Gaddy averaged just 3.9 points and 2.3 assists per game in over 18 minutes. He started 29 games, but rarely provided Washington fans with the sense that the No. 2 point guard in the nation was on the floor. Venoy Overton started only eight games, compared to Gaddy’s 29, but often played more minutes and closed out games.
While it wasn’t the freshman year many had hoped for from Gaddy, he was generally forgiven, as he was 17 years old for much of the season, making him one of the nation’s youngest players. His sophomore season came with similar forgiveness, but for different reasons.
Throughout the non-conference schedule, Gaddy looked like a completely changed player. He had improved his 3-point shooting drastically and was shooting 40 percent from deep, more than 35 percentage points better than the year prior.
He had begun to see more minutes and eventually overtook Overton as the primary point guard. With the increased minutes, UW saw an increase in scoring from its point guard as well. He was averaging over eight points and three assists per game and just like that, his season was over. During a January 4 practice, he tore his ACL and the Huskies were Gaddy-less for the remainder of the season.
At the time, the injury was devastating to Washington, now, a few games without Gaddy doesn’t sound so bad. A once promising season was down the drain and as it turned out, so was his career at Washington.
After seeing the major improvements in all aspects of his game during his shortened sophomore season, he would never develop into the player fans wanted him to be.
His junior season saw his shooting percentages dive anywhere from seven to 12 percentage points and his scoring average decrease despite playing 10 more minutes per game.
Even with the departure of Isaiah Thomas, Gaddy wasn’t able to take over starring role for the team. Instead, Terrence Ross took advantage of the opportunity and turned it into the No. 8 pick in the NBA Draft.
Gaddy never seemed to be capable of handling the starring role on a team. He was never forced into the role, but also never forced himself into the role. Even during his senior season, the ball always seemed to find its way into someone else’s hands during crunch time.
This 2012-2013 Huskies squad needed a star and nobody stepped up. Not Gaddy, not Scott Suggs and not C.J. Wilcox. Nobody. Gaddy always seemed content being the next guy. After Quincy Pondexter left, he and Thomas could have led a dynamic duo in the backcourt, no, instead it was Matthew Bryan-Amaning. After they left, it was Ross and Wroten. Not once did the once heralded recruit step up and control his own fate, or more so, his team’s fate.
Many disappointments go down in history as “what could have been.” In my mind, he doesn’t go down in history. He came to Washington and was expected to deliver a new kind of excitement to the program. Fans still got that excitement, except it came from an assortment of different players not named Abdul Gaddy. If he is remembered 10, 20, even 50 years from now, it will simply be as a disappointment.