Gaddy Coming of Age

The buckets haven't come easy this season for Abdul Gaddy. The highly-touted freshman from Tacoma was supposed to be the final piece of a repeat Pac-10 championship puzzle for the Huskies, but things haven't quite gone as planned.

The talented former McDonald's All American has struggled so far this season, especially with his jump-shot, shooting just 36 percent from the field, while connecting on a lone 3-pointer in fifteen attempts.

Looking tentative with his release, the Huskies' prized recruit has appeared the overwhelmed 17-year old making the transition to Division 1 basketball you would normally expect to see.

That is, until now.

Contrary to current evidence, Gaddy can shoot the ball. While lacking a prototypical shooter's stroke, he came to Washington with a reputation as an excellent jump-shooter, and his early season struggles have had more to do with his confidence on the defensive end than any flaw in his shot. As the Husky point guard has found his legs on defense, his offensive contribution has increased accordingly.

In last weekend's loss at Arizona, Gaddy earned a season high 32 minutes, converting five of seven field goals en route to a season-high 13 points, despite being booed mercilessly the entire game. Given his past history as an Arizona commit who reversed course when their legendary head coach, Lute Olson, stepped down, it's easy to see why the 'Cats don't exactly have warm and fuzzy thoughts for the man who has called UA his 'dream school' many times.

Gaddy had a reunion of sorts with Olson in the bowels of the McKale Center Sunday after the game. The affection Gaddy still has for Olson was evident, but the boos 'put a chip on my shoulder', he would say after losing to UA. It might be there for good.

Gaddy followed up his breakthough performance against the Wildcats with a similarly efficient 5-of-6 shooting performance against Stanford, scoring 11 points in the Huskies' most impressive victory of the year.

"To go into Arizona and play the way he did, with people booing him every time he touched the basketball, and just maintain poise, he was just steady," said UW Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar Thursday night. "It doesn't really matter what is going on, he's just steady. That continued against Stanford."

Surrounded by the sensational scoring talents of Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas, Gaddy doesn't need to be a primary scoring option, nor attempt 15 shots a game. He needs to complement the Husky stars, especially early in the game, giving Pondexter, typically a slow starter, time to ease into the offensive flow. Gaddy's floater, reminiscent of one used by former Oregon Ducks star Luke Ridnour, was especially effective early in the game at breaking down the Cardinal 3-2 zone.

A week shy of his 18th birthday, Gaddy is just starting to scratch the surface of his immense potential. Pure point guards are the rarest of players in the modern age of college basketball, and the Huskies have one of the best young talents in the country. Despite his obvious scoring ability, his future as a playmaker and floor general are even brighter.

"I mean, he is 17 years old," said Thomas about his young teammate. "I've said all along that he is going to catch on, and when he does he's going to take off and run with it. I mean he is doing a great job of slowing us down and keeping us under control."

"He is going to get to the point where he getting assists and getting good looks at the basket," added Romar. "It's really good for Abdul and really good for our team. His confidence now is really growing and as a result, it's going to do nothing but help us."

"He is always going to bring the assists," Thomas said after Thursday night's win. "But when he's scoring it's another asset we love. He makes my job so much easier and he is getting it more and more every day and becoming one of our better players."

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