Washington Huskies Basketball: More Guards, Less Problems


I had a really tough decision on Wednesday night: Should I watch the McDonald’s All-American Game, or not? On one hand, it would be my first live look at UW commit Nigel Williams-Goss. He is the type of guard we were dying for in 2012-2013, possessing the capability to create his own shot, handle the ball while wanting the ball in his hands with the game on the line.  On the other hand, it meant I would be forced to watch Aaron Gordon exert his athletic dominance on the rest of his peers.

I opted not to watch the game and instead played in my rec league hoops game where we lost by 30 points. I still think I made the right call. NWG had a good game. In 15 minutes, he shot 4-for-6 from the field and missed his only three (although he did win the 3-point contest the day before). He finished with 10 points, six assists and two blocks. Solid all around, no doubt.

But then there is Gordon’s line.

[table id=9 /]

To put that in perspective, only 10 people have scored more points than him in a McDonald’s All American Game. Some of those names? Jordan, Pierce, James and Durant. On the other hand, other names include Eddie Curry and Jonathan Bender. But still…

So, I didn’t watch the game but I still tortured myself by looking at the stat lines and then watching highlights on YouTube. It got me thinking – how filthy would this team be WITH Aaron Gordon in 2013-2014? Pair Gordon with NWG, Darin Johnson and Jahmel Taylor and we’re talking about a top-5 recruiting class. Pair that group with C.J. Wilcox (who I am assuming will return to school after his struggles during Pac-12 play), Andrew Andrews, Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau and Paris Blackwell, and we’re talking about a deep team lead by veterans paired with immensely talented freshmen.

Obviously that’s not reality – we’re going to battle with what we have and that doesn’t include Aaron Gordon. However, and maybe this is the eternal UW optimist in me, but Lorenzo Romar’s most talented and successful teams have been guard heavy.

When highly touted big men have come in (Hawes, Brockman, N’Diaye), UW has struggled. Granted, Brockman set records, but the only time his teams had postseason success was with talented perimeter players (Roy in 2006 and I.T. and Pondexter in 2009).

Without a true big man, the Huskies will look back to the glory days with Will Conroy, Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy in the backcourt. Photo via seattlesportsnet.com

The 2004 out-of-nowhere team ran essentially four guards out there with Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons and Bobby Jones (who played the 4 but was built like a small forward/guard) and then rotated big men with Hakeem Rollins and Mike (gulp) Jensen.

The 2005-2006 team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tourney only had a slightly better low post option with Jamaal Williams, but was still dominated by guards.

Like I said, this could just be my homerism, but history doesn’t lie – Romar likes to coach athletic, fast teams that can run and dominate the perimeter. The guards he is bringing in are really good. Will they develop? Maybe; I hope so. NWG is widely recognized as a top-10 guard in the country – but then again, Abdul Gaddy was ranked No. 2 overall, behind only John Wall in 2009.

Unfortunately, after two lackluster seasons that were preceded by several years with postseason play, Husky fans are holding this program to higher standards and missing out on big time recruits just isn’t acceptable to us.

So now we wait – we wait until April when Wilcox decides what to do about the draft, then we wait until October when practice starts. Don’t get me wrong, I am fired up for Nigel Williams-Goss. A backcourt of NWG and Andrews oozes with athleticism, and you layer in Wilcox with guys who can get him the ball along with functional guys up front and there is tons of potential there. I hope history repeats itself with a guard heavy rotation.