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Thursday, November 11, 2004 - Page updated at 01:16 P.M.
By Bob Sherwin
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has never had a better recruiting class than the one coming in next season, considered by some to be among the top five in the country.
"I think it's very special," said Romar yesterday after he accepted the written commitments from five highly sought basketball recruits. A sixth is pending. "I think the timing is very special. It just so happens that we had a good year last year with a lot of players coming back. I think it shows that maybe we have a chance to continue to grow with this recruiting class."
The gems are Jon Brockman, the 6-foot-7, 245-pound power forward from Snohomish High, and 6-6 Seattle Prep guard Martell Webster. Brockman was rated the No. 1 player in the annual Best in the West poll conducted by the Long Beach Press-Telegram; Webster tied for second on that list.
The school also received another state commitment from Artem Wallace, a 6-8, 230-pound power forward from Toledo. He was ranked 22nd by the newspaper. The two other recruits are 6-foot guard Justin Dentmon from Carbondale, Ill., and 6-5 guard Roburt Sallie of Sacramento.
"The best class I've ever been a part of was J.R. Henderson, Toby Bailey, omm'A Givens and Kris Johnson," said Romar, in his third year at Washington but then a UCLA assistant when that crew came in before the 1995 season. "Two of those guys went on into the NBA, and they all helped us win a (1995 NCAA) championship. I would say this class rivals that class. It's just as impressive if not more.
"Without question, it's my best class as a head coach."
Internet site scout.com ranked the Huskies' class the fourth best in the country, behind Duke, Kansas and Louisville, but ahead of North Carolina (fifth), Connecticut (10th) and Arizona (11th). The site rated Webster the ninth best player in the United States, and Brockman was 15th. All six UW recruits are among the top 125 in the country.
Romar said Brockman "is an energy guy. He's close to 6-8, 250 pounds and gets a kick out of kicking people. He enjoys banging. He's not out of control with it. He's not a dirty player. He's just as physical as you can get. He understands what makes him a good player.
"He's a banging forward but he's also a good passer, he can really run and he's athletic. He has a gift that makes you want to play hard for him. There won't be many dull practices with him here."
If Brockman stays all four years, as he has said he wants to, Romar said there might not be one practice when "he just didn't bring it. If you're playing against him, bring your lunch box because he's working two shifts."
Webster likely won't play out a four-year career. In fact, there's no guarantee he'll play even one. If he has a spectacular season for Prep, the option of declaring early for the NBA draft is possible. He's that good.
"Martell has indicated he's not in a rush," Romar said. "If he's here three years, two years, he's not going to hit the panic button and say, 'What am I still doing here?' But when that day comes and he knows he's ready, he'll go. How soon that will be, I don't know."
Romar has talked to Webster openly and extensively about his future.
"We'd love to have him, but he is talented," Romar added. "At this point, we assume he's going to be here. And if you talk to Martell, he assumes he's going to be here."
Wallace, who was raised in Russia, is not at Brockman's level yet.
"I think Jon plays on sheer instinct and energy. Artem probably plays at a different pace than Jon," Romar said. "He gets it done in different ways. He had more low-post moves."
Dentmon might be the point guard of the future. He and Ryan Appleby, sitting out this season after transferring from Florida, will compete for the job next fall.
"We're really excited about Justin," Romar said. "He's a floor leader. He had a great feel for when to push tempo and when not to push tempo."
Romar added that Sallie "may be the biggest sleeper of the bunch. A lot of teams were not aware of him."
Sallie played on the same team as current Husky Zach Johnson. Assistant coach Cameron Dollar is a friend with their coach, who urged Dollar to watch Sallie. "He finally saw him. And it was too late (for other schools). Some real big schools were ready to get after him. We were fortunate we got him."
Romar added that this was not a one-man project. He compared it to the chief of police announcing the end of a manhunt when, in fact, the detectives did the grunt work.
"My assistants did a phenomenal job with this class," he said. "There were times when it looked like maybe we were not going to get them, but these guys were absolutely relentless."
Bob Sherwin: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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