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Originally published October 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 29, 2008 at 12:06 AM

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UW nets state's top recruit as Abdul Gaddy rebuffs Arizona

The 6-3, 170-pound Abdul Gaddy, rated by Scout.com as the No. 2 point guard in the nation, had previously committed to Arizona.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Arizona's loss became Washington's gain Tuesday night as guard Abdul Gaddy of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, the highest-rated recruit in the state, announced he will sign a letter-of-intent next month to play basketball for the Huskies.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Gaddy, rated by Scout.com as the No. 2 point guard in the nation, had previously committed to Arizona. But he reopened his recruitment last week when Arizona coach Lute Olson announced his retirement for health reasons.

Gaddy's father, Abdul Gaddy Sr., said Tuesday night his son was worried about the "inconsistencies" of the coaching situation at Arizona, which he said had been his dream school for years.

Once Arizona was no longer in the picture, Gaddy again seriously considered UW along with UCLA, which he had also visited.

"We came back to the drawing board and [UW] coach [Lorenzo] Romar has always been there," Gaddy Sr. said. "He's followed him since he was a freshman in high school. And it will be a great opportunity to play in front of family and friends. It was just kind of a no-brainer at the end."

Gaddy will sign a letter with UW during the early signing period, which begins Nov. 12.

His commitment is a coup for the Huskies, who already had three commitments but were in danger of missing out on the top players in the state, such as Gaddy's Bellarmine Prep teammate Avery Bradley (Texas) and Franklin's Peyton Siva (Louisville).

UW's other commitments are from guard C.J. Wilcox of Provo, Utah; center Charles Garcia Jr., of Riverside (Calif.) CC; and forward Clarence Trent, formerly of Gig Harbor and now playing at a prep school in North Carolina.

The Huskies had just one scholarship left to give before Gaddy's commitment.

Gaddy averaged 23 points a game last season for Bellarmine and won the Gatorade Washington Boys Basketball Player of the Year Award after leading the Lions to a third-place finish at the state Class 4A Tournament.

He will turn 17 in January and Gaddy Sr. noted that his son has to stay in college for at least two years before considering the NBA due to the league's new age requirements.

"He's not going to be a one-and-done kid," Gaddy Sr. said. "So he's excited to go play there and have that opportunity to have a degree. This will be an opportunity to spread his wings a little bit but not be too far away."

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All about wins, losses

When Tyrone Willingham was hired as football coach in December 2004, Washington was only the second Division I-A school to have African-American coaches for its two major sports.

The other coach, Romar, head of the men's basketball team, lamented Tuesday that it didn't work out for a man who had become a close friend during his four years on Montlake.

"It's unfortunate," Romar said. "Coach [Willingham] is someone that from day one I just had a lot of respect for and immediately just trusted him. He's just done so many things right for this program, and it's just unfortunate in this profession when sometimes these decisions have to be made."

The Huskies also set an NCAA first by also having an African-American coach its women's basketball team — Tia Jackson — in addition to Romar and Willingham.

"The main point is that the administration here didn't see color or race," Romar said. "They saw what they felt was best for the position, and I think that is special in itself."

Romar is coming off only his second losing season in six years at UW and admitted that seeing Willingham forced to resign only reinforces the cutthroat nature of his profession.

Starting lineup unsettled

The Huskies are into their second full week of practice, and Romar said the competition for starting positions is maybe the most heated the team has had in his UW tenure.

Romar said he is leaning toward a three-guard lineup with two big men to take advantage of the team's depth in the backcourt.

He said "nine or 10" players remain in competition for the spots and that only two appear settled — Jon Brockman at forward and Quincy Pondexter on the perimeter.

If the team played a game today, the other starters would likely be freshman Isaiah Thomas and senior Justin Dentmon in the backcourt and sophomore Matthew Bryan-Amaning up front.

Romar on Olson

Romar said that the Pac-10 "has lost a superstar" with the retirement of Olson.

"He is one of the greatest coaches to ever coach this game, and I would hope no one would lose sight of that," Romar said.

Romar said he doesn't anticipate a drop-off for the Wildcats due to the coaching change.

"They've got some good ballplayers there," he said. "That first five or six they have are outstanding players, and those coaches they have are not chopped liver."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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