Commitment Impact - Tony Wroten

The Legend of the 206 marches on, ushering in the next era of Hometown heroes when Garfield High School phenom Tony Wroten Jr. announced at his high school Thursday afternoon he would play college basketball for the University of Washington next season.

Wroten is one of the more unique prospects Lorenzo Romar has recruited because of his size and length at the point guard position. Checking in a 6-foot-4 with a long wing span, Wroten's passing and raw playmaking skills are extraordinary. He'll add another wrinkle in coach Romar's ever-evolving system, which prizes offensive and defensive versatility.

Blessed with outstanding ball skills and feel for the game, Wroten will likely play three positions for the Huskies at some point in his college career. As a point guard, his blend of size, speed and quickness should give him a significant advantage over the Pac-10's cadre of sub 6-foot point men. In fact, Wroten shares many similarities with former USC star OJ Mayo. They both possess exceptional size and athleticism for the point guard position, and though Wroten lacks Mayo's shooting touch, their effectiveness in transition and attacking the basket are similar in many respects.

As a pure athlete, Wroten is among the finest in the country. Cut from the same bloodlines as cousin and former UW star Nate Robinson, Wroten is a heart a showman. Active above the rim and fearless attacking the basket, his strongest skill is his passing ability, and he is peerless for players his age in that regard.

His playmaking skills, particularly in transition as well as penetrating the lane are well documented and should translate perfectly to Washington's system. As Robinson, Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas learned, he'll have to temper his flair a little bit and learn to play smarter - especially on the defensive end - but coach Romar has never been one to handicap his players and there's no reason to believe he will treat Wroten any differently. On paper, as long as his game continues to mature in all phases, he's a perfect fit.

He's not a finished product though. At present, he's an average three-point shooter, having recently rebuilt his jump-shot to correct a flat trajectory and flawed release. As he prepares for college, much of his time will be spent improving that aspect of his game. Already a gym rat, Wroten will also need to continue strengthening his body, while striking a balance strength training with his natural speed and quickness. Matt Ludwig will love having Wroten around the weight room.

Defensively, Wroten's upside is high due to his wingspan and lateral quickness, but like most high school players, he lacks consistency. Tone is also an instinctive shot blocker, though at times time he tends to rely on it in rather than using proper defensive positioning – again, something that will be ironed out under Romar's guidance.

The Huskies play a more physical brand of defense than most programs, and Wroten's physicality and penchant for intimidating opponents should serve him well as a Husky. As he gets older, Wroten's demeanor on the floor should resemble those from the 206 who have gone before him in the program - especially having been so heavily influenced by legendary Huskies like Robinson, Will Conroy and surrogate Dawg, Jamal Crawford.

All in all, Wroten's commitment is one of the biggest in the program's history. It definitely is right up there with the commitments of Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman, in terms of national exposure. Don't fool yourself; Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino had Wroten at the top of his wish list.

Wroten's confidence alone will be a welcome addition to a program that will lose three or four starters next season. He'll compete - along with good friend and future teammate Hikeem Stewart - for a starting spot in what is expected to be another dynamite back-court for the Huskies.

His commitment also extends the connection between the University of Washington, the programs of the now-famous Seattle Metro School District, and the Rotary Select AAU basketball program. It also extends the connection with UW and the Wrotens, arguably one of the city's most prominent athletic families.

With the rest of the region's sports teams mired in mediocrity - or worse, the UW basketball program continues to grow in stature as one of the premier sports programs in the Pacific Northwest. For the University of Washington basketball program, their fans and for the Wroten family, it's a great day to be a Dawg.


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