It’s finally starting to happen, the 5-star, number 2 point guard in the country, Abdul Gaddy is starting to flourish down the homestretch of his third season in purple and gold.
After coming in with lofty expectations as a 17-yeard old freshman, Gaddy underwhelmed; he has been criticized for everything he can’t do on the basketball court.
He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but the 6-3 point guard from Tacoma wasn’t doing anything to show why he was rated the number 2 point guard in the country behind John Wall. He’s too slow, not explosive enough, he doesn’t score enough, or grab enough rebounds; in some fans eyes all he’s been good for is walking the ball up to half court and passing it off to a teammate to score.
Ask Lorenzo Romar or former teammate and current Sacramento Kings rookie Isaiah Thomas and they’d tell you that Gaddy has always been much more than that. They’d say the stats don’t tell the whole story and that Gaddy has been a huge part to every success the Huskies have had with him on the team.
Regardless of whether you’ve loved or loathed Gaddy up until this point, the last few weeks he’s shown why he could be a very special player. He’s brought a newfound confidence to the court that hasn’t been seen since early in his sophomore campaign before he tore his ACL; but this time around he looks even better.
Gaddy has posted 6 or more assists in each of the Huskies last six games including a career high 12 against UCLA. Over those 6 games his assist to turnover ratio is 41:14, nearly 3 to 1, and he’s doing that while improving in other areas as well.
Normally a poor three-point shooter, Gaddy has shot 45% from outside in the last seven games, 12% higher than his season average. That’s helped him score in double figures 5 times in the last 7 games.
The culmination of his game really starting to click was against Oregon in the NIT quarterfinal; when he had his best game of his career.
Gaddy tied a career high in rebounds, he posted his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, added a rare block, and only turned the ball over twice; but in true Gaddy form he did it quietly.
Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten stole the show, combining for 46 points, but Gaddy’s complete game may have been even more impressive.
His defense is something that is largely overlooked, because he doesn’t get many steals or blocks, but rather just plays solid, fundamental defense; that’s what he did against Devoe Joseph that made his night so impressive. Joseph averages 16.6 points per game, but Gaddy limited him to just 12 points on 4-15 shooting. Gaddy also drew a key charge late in the game against E.J. Singler that gave him his fifth foul with under a minute to play.
While Gaddy’s hot finish has been important for the Huskies run toward the NIT championship, it really could be a sign of much bigger things ahead.
Under Romar players seem to have a knack for closing their junior year strong and coming back to have huge senior years; Gaddy looks well on his way to doing just that.
Brandon Roy increased his points per game from 12.8 to 20.2 from his junior to senior year; Quincy Pondexter went from 12.1 to 19.3; Matthew Bryan-Amaning went from 8.8 to 15.3; and Justin Holiday went from averaging 5.9 points per game up to 10.5 his senior year.
All four of these players have something in common other than their senior leap, it didn’t some out of nowhere; they were productive players who just hadn’t taken the next step from productive to great.
Gaddy fits in perfectly with those four players, he’s contributed for multiple years, he’s been solid, but never been the go to guy and never had the spotlight on him.
Next year should be his year to shine, Wroten and Ross appear on their way to the NBA, which means next season, when Gaddy comes within three rebounds of a triple double, he’ll be more than just a footnote, he’ll be the headline. If they stay, Gaddy could be that much better having two more scoring options to dish the ball to.
The skills are certainly there for Gaddy, he will never be Tony Wroten or Isaiah Thomas because he just isn’t that type of player, but Gaddy could easily be a quite assassin more along the lines of Brandon Roy or a Jason Kidd.
The last few weeks he’s taken strides towards stardom and now Gaddy looks poised to take a huge leap into his final season and emerge as the face and star of the Washington Huskies.
Follow Lawrence on Twitter @AMitchellReport