Shelton center of attention

It's been a long time coming, but Marlon Shelton is getting a chance to hit the hardwood again. It's a feeling Shelton hasn't experienced since he hobbled off the court against USC in March of 2001 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Marlon was set to return last season, but he re-injured his knee it last September. Now Shelton is done with the rehabbing, the months of doing everything BUT playing and is scheduled to go 5-on-5 in just a couple of weeks.

"I've been working pretty hard in the off-season," Shelton told Dawgman.com Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Summer League at Royal Brougham Pavilion. "It's time to get real serious now, get back in the playing mode."

Marlon was drafted by the South team to participate in the league, but he hasn't received the thumbs-up to give his knee a serious test. Marlon looks nice and trim at 275 pounds to go with his 6-10-inch frame. "I'm feeling a lot better," he said. "I've gotten up to 290 before. I'm getting a lot more flexibility in my legs. I've been doing a lot of one-on-one work, work with Coach Romar. I'm just focusing now on getting stronger, getting ready to play. Right now I can do everything but play. I've been doing jumping drills, running, lifting...everything but 5-on-5."

His South teammates include Husky senior-to-be Josh Barnard, Seattle University's AJ Brooks (Aaron Brooks' brother), and Cameron Heide from BYU-Hawaii, whose brother Jason played for Oregon State.

Shelton, along with his Husky teammates, has been feeling out the new coaching staff this summer. Lorenzo Romar, Cameron Dollar, Ken Bone and Russ Schoene have been working non-stop since Bob Bender resigned on March 20th, and the team has seen it all first-hand. Hindsight being 20/20, Marlon still expressed some shock when recounting the day Bender stepped down from the post he held for nine years.

"He called a meeting and the rumor was that he called the meeting because he was ready to announce it," Shelton said. "That was the buzz around campus, but it was still a surprise. You can talk about it all you want but when it happens...it's the guy that's been looking out for me for the past four years. All of a sudden he's gone. It's a change, and it looks like it's going to be a good change. We just have to see."

And the first time he met his new head coach? "It was at a team meeting," Marlon said. "He just talked about focusing on the team aspect of thing. He didn't want to talk about basketball. The problem at hand was our grades, so he wanted to address that right away. He told us that he's going to be there for us."

He's already given Marlon his orders for this coming season. "He wants me to get in shape, run a lot more," he said. "I need to drop twenty (pounds). And he wants me to be that senior presence that I need to be."

Shelton also commented on finally getting the chance to learn from a fellow center in Schoene. "He's pretty solid," Marlon said with a bit of a chuckle. "I had never really met him before until he started working with us. It's great to have a real center coaching us."

In Marlon's opinion, the new staff is doing what it takes to get the program turned around. "We're pretty much the same, it's just the head guys that have changed," he said. "They want to be more involved because they don't have that much time to get to know us. They are working around the clock for us and I appreciate it."

It's a bit unfortunate that Marlon has just one more chance to make good for the Dawgs. "It came quick! I'm looking forward to my senior year and hopefully it's going to be a good one," he said. "I'm working hard to make sure it's going to be."

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