Husky Hardwood 2012

So Isaiah Thomas is going to try his hand in the NBA. I sure wish him nothing but the best, and certainly the best of luck in getting drafted as high as he possibly can. He has been an exemplary Husky in all facets, and he will be missed. Washington will now be losing their top three scorers from this year.

Thomas' exuberance on and off the court, his huge heart he wore on his sleeve for all to see when he was exhorting his team to try harder, to play tougher defense, to keep their heads up, and to follow him to the finish line.

Thomas was a non-stop worker, as evidenced by his defense. When he first arrived at Montlake from prep school, defense was the furthest thing down on his resume of talents that he was bringing to the Husky team. He could score, he could handle the ball, and he could pass well, but defense didn't come natural to him right off the shelf.

No, defense would require an upgrade on his part.

From his freshman season to about the middle of his sophomore season, a HUGE transformation took place. Isaiah became one of the Huskies defensive stoppers. When it came down to crunch time and Lorenzo Romar needed a lock-down on the ball defender, Isaiah became the guy that the coach turned to. And with great success.

That trait carried over to this season, as Thomas continued to amp up the defense. He took great pride in this, and it showed late in games when he would implore his teammates to lock it up tight.

Gone is that defensive warrior who also averaged 17 points, six assists, and a very dependable 3.5 rebounds per contest. All of that will need to be found elsewhere for the Huskies next season.

And perhaps a bigger hole will be his leadership. Isaiah was very much the face of this team. He put his stamp on this year's group, and although he wasn't able to lead them to another Sweet 16, he was undeniably the leader in the clubhouse and on the court. That is something that will have to be earned and proven under fire, just as Thomas did it.

So Washington will need to replace probably 30 minutes worth of upper-classmen guard play. Thomas would've no doubt split his time between the point guard (the "one") and shooting guard (the "two") positions, so that is where you have to look in terms of roster opportunity.

First and foremost, you must hope that Abdul Gaddy will return 100% from his torn ACL, and Romar has said that all indications point to that. I spoke with Abdul at the Pac-10 tournament and he told me then that his rehabilitation was going very well, and that he saw no reason that he wouldn't be all the way back to the form that saw him leading the team in free throw shooting, second in assists, and third in three-point shooting before the injury.

Gaddy will probably be the starter, but coming off of a full year of ACL rehab, he may not have the stamina yet to go for 30 minutes a game. I would expect him to get probably 20 to 25 minutes though. He will be the leader of the offense, and of all of the point guards that Washington had on it's roster, Gaddy was by far the best in the half court, which is an area many pundits point to Washington as a great weakness.

Gaddy is 6-3 and a pretty strong kid, so he can also get to the rim and finish. His outside shot was an area he improved greatly on, and if he is still at that level next season, that will be a great weapon. He was outshooting Thomas from outside in the early season last year.

The other 15-20 minutes per game at the point will now go to true freshman Tony Wroten, Jr.

Wroten is just a smidge under 6-5, making him a very difficult guy to handle. He can post up shorter guards with ease, and he will be a real rebounding boon inside because of his length and his ability to jump through the gym roof.

He plays a little faster than Gaddy does, despite his height. He loves to gallop up the floor and find his teammates in stride or in rhythm so they can pull up and take their shot. He sees the floor better than any young player I've ever seen. He has Jamaal Crawford's body but he has Gary Payton's quickness. He is going to be a point guard unlike the Huskies have ever had in their history.

Wroten's outside shot is not a threat, but that won't be what is required of him anyway. Gaddy's shot is much more reliable, but Wroten can cut, shake, bake, and create in a wealth of ways to get his shot. He is slick at getting through the perimeter defense and getting to the foul line and either gliding to the rim for a short floater or dishing inside to a post player that will slam his pass home for an easy two points.

Originally I thought Wroten would play a little bit of point guard but also some at the two and maybe even the three. With Isaiah's looming departure, I would say that Wroten's minutes at the point will double. It was going to be a three-headed monster at the "one", but now it will likely be a two-person job. I do expect Wroten to get a few minutes as a two-guard at times when Lorenzo wants two sharp ball handlers in the game at once, or if the opposing two-guard is small. That is a mismatch that Wroten could really exploit, because he can play so much taller than 6-5 when he needs to.

The two-guard will now be a bit more open. C.J. Wilcox, I would expect, would be the starter. At 6-5, he is able to create his shot with very little opening. And his release is unreal. He is the best shooter on the team and can go for 25 points in the blink of an eye if he gets hot and teams are stubborn enough to remain in a zone defense. Wilcox also is a solid defender, giving him the edge in competition for the starting job.

With Thomas' exit, I think the Huskies will run more offense for the sophomore-to-be from Utah. He is such a devastating shooter. His minutes might go upwards of 25 per game now.

The other two-guard in the mix is obviously Senior Scott Suggs. Suggs is one of the most versatile players in the Romar line up. He is arguably as good of a shooter as Wilcox, and probably a little more solid on defense. His minutes will definitely go up without Isaiah in the line up.

Incoming freshman Hakeem Stewart could also vie for some time at the two-guard position but because he has had to contend with a sore knee pretty much his entire senior season, he might come in a little bit rusty. A redshirt year would probably be beneficial both to him and for the long term plans of the Huskies.

If Wilcox and Suggs can handle the majority of the minutes at the "two", that would allow Terrence Ross to pick up closer to 25 or 30 minutes at the "three" or "swing forward" position. Ross, at 6-6 and incredible hands, is well suited to the forward position because he proved to be a solid rebounder last year late in the season. Ross was moving back and forth between the two and three, but it would be beneficial for him to stay at the three and become a Quincy Pondexter type of player (but a much more lethal shooter) that can carry the team offensively. I would now expect him to be the leading scorer on next year's team.

So you are now probably looking at a three-guard rotation of the following:
- Abul Gaddy: 20-25 minutes at the point guard.
- Tony Wroten: 15-20 minutes at the point guard.
- C.J. Wilcox: 20-25 minutes at the two-guard.
- Scott Suggs: 10-15 minutes at the two-guard.
- Tony Wroten: 5-10 minutes at the two-guard.
- Terrence Ross: 25-30 minutes at the three-swing.
- Scott Suggs: 10-15 minutes at the three-swing.

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