Tony Wroten: Mission Accomplished?


Once the Husky season eventually ends, all attention is going to turn to whether Terrance Ross and/or Tony Wroten will enter their names into the NBA draft. Both players were candidates for Pac-12 Player of the Year, but perhaps splitting the votes, Jorge Gutierrez of Cal won the award. Both players have been mentioned in various NBA mock draft websites as potential lottery picks and almost certain 1st round picks at the very least. Of course, going anywhere in the 1st round is the key, since it gives players that guaranteed 3-year contract. As Husky fans, we certainly have our biases and for the sake of the team we love, we hope both of them return one year older, with more experience and stronger bodies.

But, no one is going to take issue with either of them for making the decision to seek the sure money if they have the chance. For as romantic as we all like to be about “getting a degree” and “finishing what you started”, let’s be honest… If you were in college and some company in our field of expertise or interest offered you over $1 million per year to leave early and join their organization, how many of you would really say “no thanks?”.

That being said, there are some real and legitimate reasons for Tony Wroten to stay. His game is not complete. Far from it really. He is not a serious threat from the outside and his free throw shooting is among the worst I have ever seen for a starting guard in major college ball. While he was 9 of 11 initially in the Oregon State game, he missed four critical free throws in the final minute when the team really needed him to step up. While his athleticism can result in some amazing defensive plays, including blocks near the rim and spectacular steals in the open court, he also lacks some of the discipline and experience to play it at Gary Payton-like levels on a possession-by-possession basis. Wroten also needs to improve on some of his offensive decision-making, as his turnover rate is a bit too high.

That being said, he is an incredible talent. His athleticism is incredible and his potential is through the roof. While we sit and wait to see if the Huskies get an invitation to the Big Dance, without Wroten’s stellar play, a berth in the NCAA tournament would not have even been a consideration this year. Does anyone here really believe the Huskies could have challenged for the Pac-12 regular season title without Wroten on the floor for 30 minutes per game?

Perhaps one of the big questions that needs to be asked is this…Did Tony Wroten accomplish what he set out to do at UW? Had the Huskies limped along for a lackluster season, like in 2006 when the team went 19-13 with Spencer Hawes and missed any form of post-season play, then there would definitely be a feeling in Huskyland that Wroten’s stellar freshman year was a wasted one. While no one faulted Hawes for taking the guarunteed money, there was a sense of so much left unaccomplished. We never felt like we got to know Hawes or what he could do for the program. Missing the post-season, especially after two-straight Sweet 16s, left  everyone feeling so disappointed for what could have been.

But, Tony Wroten’s situation is not the same as it was for Spencer Hawes. Tony Wroten led his team to Pac-12 Regular Season Title. Tony Wroten won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He was listed in the Top 5 in the nation for Freshman of the Year. What else is left to accomplish? An NCAA tournament appearance perhaps. That, we’ll have to wait one more day to see. But, he did exactly what Husky fans hoped he would do if he was only going to stay one year.

Now, could the Huskies do better and go farther if he returns? Absolutely. Imagine having him back, plus a senior Abdul Gaddy, a senior Scott Suggs, a junior CJ Wilcox, plus Andrew Andrews and Hikeem Stewart off the bench? That’s a big time backcourt! Rather than struggle and limp along early on and then win close games against weak teams in the conference season to accomplish those dreams, perhaps they could have a big time season. Perhaps they could beat a UConn on the road, make national news, get into the Top 25. Maybe the Huskies could get a #2 seed instead of a #12 seed in the NCAA tournament. Maybe the Huskies could make the Elite Eight or even the Final Four?

Yes, unless you win the whole shebang and capture the NCAA tournament championship, there is always more to accomplish. But, at this stage, I think Husky fans should feel lucky for the one season they got from Wroten, should he decide to leave. Either way, it seems his future is bright. There is much he could improve on next year in a Husky uniform. He could get better and fans could have more fun watching him. But, with millions on the line, who can fault him for leaving if that’s what he does? To me, it seems like this season has already been “Mission Accomplished”.