Breaking down the roster

For the first time in three years, the Washington Huskies basketball team has depth, as well as quality across class lines. They have veterans, they have younger players with game experience, and they have talented freshmen, so the chemistry appears to be properly mixed in equal measure.

With the season fast approaching, we take a class-by-class look at how things are taking shape in Lorenzo Romar's seventh season as the Huskies' head basketball coach.

F Jon Brockman: No question about it, he's the heart, soul, muscle, player-coach and captain of this year's squad. He's also been sidelined for most of the summer recovering from foot surgery, so it's hard to ascertain how much he's grown as a player. One area he has worked feverishly to address is his free throw shooting, shooting upwards of 2000 free throws a week. He told reporters this week his final count for the summer was 11,400 free throws made. Fans can expect big numbers from the Husky legend-to-be during his farewell tour at Washington, especially since most of the conference's marquee centers – the Lopez Twins, DeVon Hardin, Kevin Love - are gone. Brockman has been a purple and gold treasure – appreciate every minute you get to watch the embodiment of pure joy in action.
Projected Role: On-floor Commander in Chief.

G Justin Dentmon: The Illinois native's career hasn't exactly panned out the way many (including Dentmon) had hoped, but he still has much to offer in his final season. Over the summer, Dentmon did nothing to diminish his reputation as one of teams' hardest workers, dominating open gym runs with his limitless energy. He appears to have finally reached a balance between muscle and tone with his physique, and his shot appears infinitely improved, shooting nearly 1000 shots a day, six days a week. What makes Dentmon so hard to gauge during the summer is that he plays so much harder than his teammates – 100 percent all of the time - while the rest dial back considerably. Does he look much improved? Yes, and he's seemingly more comfortable now that he's focused on an off-guard scoring role, but only time will tell whether it translates to the regular season.
Projected Role: Potential starter or big-minute scorer off the bench.

C/F Artem Wallace: The good news is that Artem is way ahead of schedule as he heals from a knee injury suffered during the opening minutes of the Huskies' opening round loss to Valparaiso in the CBI last spring. Last season he entered fall practice 30 pounds over his playing weight, but this offseason he's managed to keep the weight off despite being limited in his physical activity. The bad news is that he missed an opportunity to build on his improved production last season, likely surrendering his starting spot to Mathew Bryan-Amaning. Regardless of whether he starts or not, Wallace is certain to play an important role with this year's team.
Projected Role: Potential starter or first post off the bench.

C Joe Wolfinger: Wolf didn't see much action during the summer, limiting his workouts in an effort to prevent another injury to his surgically repaired foot. Joe has spent considerable time working on his conditioning, sporting a more sculpted frame and it should result in a more effective defensive presence and rebounding effort. Nobody can question his three-point shot – it's the best on the team - but 7-footers who shoot treys fill a niche roughly the size of a thimble, and Wolf's challenge will be to transition beyond that. Fortunately, his foot appears fully healed, and while he'll never be confused with a gazelle, he is moving smoother and with more confidence in limited action. But if he's going to see playing time this season he'll have to be much stronger around the basket. Wolfinger gives Romar a nifty strategic match-up asset, but Joe has larger aspirations.
Projected Role: Potential member of post rotation, Match-up nightmare from distance.

F Quincy Pondexter: The Fresno, Calif. native has been given many nicknames; "Q," "Q-Pon," "Poindexter" to name a few, but there might be a more fitting nickname for the junior wing -"The Enigma." No player on the Huskies roster has better physical tools than Pondexter, and there's little doubt he's got the talent to be an All-Conference performer. Quincy's problems have been mental, saddling himself with immense expectations that manifest themselves by a lack of confidence during games, often beating himself up after mistakes. He appears to have grown up though, spending much of the summer with a grizzly beard and demonstrating a renewed confidence amongst his teammates. He's also stronger - his three-point range is now effortless and his presence around the rim is more physical, but all of that will go for naught if he can't win the head game first.
Projected Role: Starting small forward, primary scorer?

G Venoy Overton: Overton's surprising debut season was full of more ups than downs. His speed and confidence commanding the point was possibly the biggest surprise in a season that left fans with little to cheer about, and big things are expected from the Seattle native this winter. Overton has worked tirelessly to improve his range – his achilles' heel last year - and though he'll never be a great shooter, neither was his predecessor and mentor; Will Conroy. Overton has the potential to be a standout defender and one of the better guards in the program's rich tradition, but consistency must become his friend. Yes, he shut down Arizona's Jerryd Bayless, but that flag only waves for so long and Bayless has already turned pro. To be great, Overton must bring that same effort every single night and not be content with the occasional standout evening or his defensive effort on the previous possession.
Projected Role: Potential starter, energy guy and defensive stopper.

C/F Matthew Bryan-Amaning: The Brit has game – his eye-popping 41-point outburst at the European U20 Championships against the Czech Republic this past summer left little doubt about that. Bryan-Amaning has all of the tools to be a star, with a body sculpted like an NBA power forward and skills to match. What Matthew can't afford to do is overplay the game. He's got a wild array of post moves, but he tends to try and use them all in the same possession. That rarely works in his favor. He won't see enough field goal opportunities to match his 17-point, 8-rebound average of the U20's, but he's a potential double-digit scorer who will continue to improve as he refines his game.
Projected Role: Starter, Brockman's double-team beneficiary.

G/F Justin Holiday: Husky fans didn't get to see the best out of Holiday last season. Plagued by injury and illness, the rail-thin wing showed promise, putting his incredible length to use as a perimeter defender. But success as a defensive stopper never translated to the offensive end. Holiday doesn't appear to have put on much weight during the offseason and defense is rarely a focus during open gym, so it's hard to speculate how much his game has grown. There are minutes to be had backing up Pondexter at the three spot. The development in his offensive game will likely determine whether or not Holiday sees much playing time this year.
Projected Role: Reserve, Defensive stopper, Kryptonite to his brother Jrue (at UCLA).

F Darnell Gant: Gant's decision to redshirt last season was a wise one, and he put the extra time to good use. He is the dark horse on the roster, and he added bulk while polishing his versatile array of skills. Gant is a true swing player capable of defending multiple positions, and has surprising defensive skills on the perimeter. Offensively, Darnell is a true threat out to the three-point line and his skill set is going to carry him far in a program where versatility is a prized trait. With so much depth in the post, Gant may not play as much as his skill deserves this season, but he will push Wolfinger and Wallace for minutes and could possibly earn some time spelling Pondexter at small forward.
Projected Role: Reserve, veteran motivator.

G Isaiah Thomas: Thomas may have escaped national acclaim as a prep athlete, but make no mistake; "Zeke" is a truly gifted scorer and his game will emerge completely intact at the D1 level. Thomas will immediately upgrade the backcourt for Romar. He's got fantastic range to accompany his sensational ability to penetrate the lane, but it's his passing that has people talking. Known primarily as a scorer, the former Curtis star - who once scored 51 points against Franklin in the State tournament - has an uncanny feel for the game, and is at his best penetrating and dishing to his teammates for easy buckets, while at the same time looking to play off that role for easy looks at the basket. Thomas charges like a pinball through the lane, and is built so solidly that he can use opposing defenders against themselves with fantastic body control, and should spend considerable time at the charity stripe. His defense isn't the disaster it was thought to be earlier, though he has a ways to go. Thomas is a big reason why there is so much optimism surrounding this team.
Projected Role: Starting guard, scorer and fly-in-the-ointment on defense

G Elston Turner: Thomas may be dropping jaws, but Elston Turner is perhaps the biggest surprise among the new arrivals. It was immediately clear the moment he stepped on the court that he's a coach's kid (his father is an assistant for the Houston Rockets and was a finalist for the head coaching job in Phoenix) with an advanced understanding of the game and a gorgeous three-point shot. Turner isn't an explosive athlete, but is deceptively quick with few wasted motions. In a word, Elston is efficient, and though he could stand to pack on some bulk his body arrived ready for the Pac-10 grind. Turner was a favorite target for outlet passes over the summer, and he'll likely see immediate playing time as he competes for back-up minutes at the two and three positions.
Projected Role: fourth guard, steady hand.

G/F Scott Suggs: Though Suggs arrived as the most celebrated of the incoming freshmen, he still has a lot of work to do on his body. Scott is an exceptional athlete with an advanced, well-rounded game that should fit in nicely with Coach Romar's up-tempo system, but he needs to build strength in order to guard opposing twos and threes. The good news is that Suggs has few flaws in his game and possesses all of the makings of a future All-Conference-caliber performer, but he'll need to dedicate serious time in the weight room to get there. Scott will likely compete with Turner and Holiday for back up minutes from the get-go.
Projected Role: Reserve, energy guy.

F Tyreese Breshers: Incomplete due to injury. Breshers needs to focus on getting into shape before he's ready to compete at the Pac-10 level.


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