Open Gym Report - 7/21

I caught some open gym action Monday afternoon. The usual cast of characters were present: The Huskies, plus Spencer Hawes and Nick Collison, Justin Dentmon, Ryan Appleby and a couple of guards from Seattle University.

Darnell Gant is fully recovered from a groin pull and is really starting to display confidence in his abilities when he has the ball. His high-octane motor appears to be even more active than it was last year, and he hit several spinning mid-range jumpers. He was also extremely active on the glass, throwing down a couple of furious put back dunks. Basically, imagine a more agile and confident version of Darnell from last year and that's what I saw Monday.

Elston Turner continues to shine, and it is becoming pretty obvious he is going to play a major role in the rotation this upcoming season. He approaches every shot with the utmost confidence that it's going to drop, regardless of his location on the floor. His release is rarely affected by his defender and his range extends well beyond the NBA 3-point line with accuracy.

C.J. Wilcox continues to be the surprise of the 2009 summer. The true frosh from Utah is athletic, poised, and even more deadly from outside than Turner. He and Turner began the first game trading several 3-pointers while their teammates watched in amusement, and the buzz from the sidelines was apparent - myself included.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning is at his best keeping it simple, and was unstoppable at times despite being guarded by pro players like Hawes and Collison. As usual, his game stumbles when he starts jab-stepping and head-faking his way to the bucket. The rotation of the ball ends up all wrong and more often than not it ends up rolling off the back iron. MBA is still a sensational talent, though, and will continue to improve.

It's tough for Venoy Overton to shine in open gym. His shooting is still marginal at best, but he appears more in control of himself when the ball is in his hands. The recklessness that plagued him at times last year appears to be improving as he matures. He did have some great moments knifing through the lane. If he would dedicate himself to his jumpshot the way Dentmon did last season, Overton would likely find his way onto the Pac-10 All-Conference team.

Isaiah Thomas is Isaiah Thomas. You know what you're going to get with Zeke.

Abdul Gaddy is going to impact the game in ways Huskies fans have never witnessed before. He staggers, fakes and jukes so unpredictably that trying to single-cover him is often an effort in futility. He threads passes and leads his teammates so well that they could be connected by a wire, but they're still adjusting to such superb passing. After bobbling a pass through the paint that was threaded between three defenders, Turner could do nothing but look at Gaddy with a bewildered smile, as if to say, ‘I don't know how that pass made it to me, and I'm sorry I dropped it'. There is a general acknowledgement amongst even the NBA guys that Abdul is going to do some special things. I'll save observations on the rest of his game for another day.

It was my first time watching Clarence Trent since he arrived on campus, and the first thing that stood out was he isn't as tall as I expected, checking in at around 6-foot-5. He's all legs and can leap out of the gym, but after my first viewing I came away wondering what role he'll play: He didn't really demonstrate any post game, though he's strong enough to battle down low, and his shooting touch and handle have a ways to go before he's going to see playing time on the perimeter. He's at his best attacking the glass and elevating for dunks - which he performs like he's riding an escalator - but he needs to figure out what kind of player he is before he makes an impact for the Huskies.

Quincy Pondexter strolled in late, resting a slight foot injury sustained while playing on the USA U20 Team in the World University Games. He's indicated he's fine but took the day off after playing yesterday and will be back in action Tuesday. Make no mistake though; this year's team is Pondexter's team, having fully embraced the leadership role vacated by Jon Brockman. He was quietly throwing out orders and making subtle suggestions to the underclassmen who are getting to know him for the first time.

I got a laugh out of him commenting on 'these kids', since his freshman season was my first on the beat and he was as bright eyed and bushy tailed as anyone on the floor. Things have clearly changed, and there's a new aura of confidence surrounding Q that I've never sensed before.

Or maybe it's just the beard. Top Stories