Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Play Basketball: What Role Will He Play?


From day one Austin Seferian-Jenkins has said he wanted to play basketball for Coach Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies, now that the football season is finally over with, the 6-6 258-pound tight end is going to get that opportunity.

There’s no question that Seferian-Jenkins is a physical specimen, he showed that all season long on the football field with his ability to get up the field and make big plays over shorter defenders.

But can he play basketball? His senior year at Gig Harbor he averaged 19-points and eight rebounds per game; clearly he has some skills.

I also doubt he’s stayed off the basketball court since high school ball, I know from experience that football players such as Jermaine Kearse, Keith Price and others play intramural basketball and pickup games on occasion at the UW IMA.

Still, how does he fit in with the Huskies and what role will he play?

In all likelihood, he

won’t get important game minutes in the first several weeks on the team, he doesn’t know Romar’s defensive system, he’s months behind the likes of Shawn Kemp Jr. and Martin Breunig, who he’ll be competing with for playing time. Breunig and Kemp Jr. haven’t shown much though in their first month and a half of the season which opens a huge door for Seferian-Jenkins if he can prove capable of being an offensive threat, something that the Huskies are in desperate need of.

The Huskies current five bigs in the rotation, Aziz N’Diaye, Darnell Gant, Desmond Simmons, Kemp Jr. and Breunig pose little to no inside scoring threat, leaving Washington to look to the three-point shot and Tony Wroten Jr. driving to the basket for nearly all of their points.

A freakishly athletic Seferian-Jenkins reminds me of Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a big man who ran the court as well as any big man you’ll ever see. The Huskies miss him as much as any player who left following last season; Seferian-Jenkins would appear to be the player who could replace that void.

Remember the pick and roll run by Isaiah Thomas and Bryan-Amaning? Now envision that with Seferian-Jenkins and Wroten, it could become a staple of the Huskies half-court offense, which currently is non-existent.

On the defensive side of the ball Seferian-Jenkins would be one of the most physically enforcing players in the Pac-12. The Huskies seem weak as a team, but Seferian-Jenkins would bring a physicality that no other player on the team could match, he played Pac-12 football and succeeded, he knows what it’s like to be physical and will bring that to the hardwood.

Plenty of scouts said that Seferian-Jenkins would be a better offensive tackle than tight end; so in essence the Huskies are going to put an athletic, trimmed down Pac-12 offensive tackle on the court; that sounds like a dominant inside defender if I’ve ever heard of one. With all of the upside of Seferian-Jenkins, clearly expectations should be tempered, if he was an All-Conference type player he would’ve gained more attention in the basketball recruiting world regardless of what he wanted to do.

He is fast and athletic for a tight end, but quickness on the basketball court is a completely different measuring stick. He won’t be running straight lines; he will be shuffling his feet and needing to make defensive moves that are completely different than his football moves.

As a ball handler in the low-post, even if he’s played occasionally, he can’t be as fundamentally sound as he once was. Just like any sport, when you’re not practicing at a high level every day, you won’t play at a high level come game time. Where does this put him as far as importance the rest of the season? Very low, his impact over the next month could be nothing at all while he learns everything in Romar’s system.

If the Huskies gain steam and win without him though, he may end up as the X-factor come conference, or even NCAA tournament time.

Give it time and Seferian-Jenkins will become a key contributor for Washington this season, but in the short term, his addition may be nothing more than another big body on the bench.

Follow Lawrence on Twitter @AMitchellReport