Washington freshmen make favorable first impression in pickup games at Hec Ed
The Washington Huskies' 2011-12 men's basketball team gathered last week for pickup games at Edmundson Pavilion.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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The Washington Huskies who played pickup games last week at Edmundson Pavilion had a different look from the team that was knocked out of the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament by North Carolina.
Most of the players were there on Thursday, the only absentees newly signed Shawn Kemp Jr., who wasn't feeling well, and walk-on Brendan Sherrer.
They were joined by former Huskies star Spencer Hawes and Nick Collison, the Oklahoma City veteran and former Sonic who maintains a home in the Seattle area. Washington football players Austin Seferian-Jenkins and James Johnson also played and held their own. The other notable was former University of Portland player Luke Sikma, son of former Sonics great Jack Sikma.
Most players took their lead from Darnell Gant, who appeared to organize teams and get the games going. The senior looked comfortable in his new role as co-captain.
A quick scouting report:
• Andrew Andrews, the Oregon 5A state co-player of the year, was matched against fellow freshman Hikeem Stewart. That was fitting, because those two will likely battle for the third point-guard position.
Andrews is fearless, but was consistent and made solid decisions with the ball. He made the proper pass, rarely lost the ball on the dribble, drove to the rim in traffic and drained a few open jumpers.
• Stewart (6 feet 2 and 175 pounds) was the smallest player on the court. He's aggressive offensively and didn't shy away from taking shots, even with NBA players on his team. Stewart is creative in the lane. He's able to get off-balance floaters and layups in traffic to the rim. His shooting skills far outweigh his passing ability.
• Tony Wroten Jr. plays with ease and confidence, unlike many freshmen. He's never hurried, but he was one of the quicker players. His left-handed jumper has a low starting point and trajectory, and it takes him a while to get the shot off. But if he's open, he can hit the college three-pointer.
Wroten played several games with Gant and Terrence Ross, and it was interesting to watch their chemistry. Wroten dished out at least one eye-popping assist in every game. He's fearless with his passing. He'll throw the ball to anybody at any time. He also had more than a few turnovers.
• Martin Breunig has been on campus the past three weeks and said he has added 10 pounds. He has a solid, muscular frame. Offensively, he worked best on the baseline about 10 to 15 feet from the rim. And it wasn't uncommon to see him grab a rebound and dribble up court.
• Just as Stewart and Andrews will likely be linked, so will Breunig and fellow freshman Jernard Jarreau. They have similar styles and might fight for backup minutes in the frontcourt. Jarreau is loaded with confidence and said he wants to compete for a starting position.
At 6-10, he's the second-tallest Husky and his height should help him find a spot in the rotation. He was active around the rim and wasn't afraid to take a three-pointer. Jarreau has a wide wing span and he altered several shots. He's 195 pounds and said he's working to add a little bulk.
• In some ways, Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward who redshirted last season, is the seventh member of the freshman class. At least that's how Gant sees it.
"Dez is really one of them. And if you're thinking about the freshmen as a group, then he could have the biggest impact, because he knows our system better than the other guys," Gant said.
Simmons is all hustle and grit. He wore a black brace on his surgically repaired right knee but appeared explosive while running and jumping.
• Even with NBA players on the court, Ross at times looked like the best player on the floor. He wowed the few folks in the stands with high-flying dunks, alley-oop slams and putback jams. Ross, a 20-year-old sophomore, also looks much more chiseled.
• Scott Suggs has worked on his ball-handling skills. He ran the offense at the point-guard spot at times and looked much better dribbling in traffic than ever before. Suggs made a fair share of NBA-range three-pointers.
• It also seems as if C.J. Wilcox is making a point to dribble and attack the rim more than ever. Still, his deadliest weapon is one of the purest jump shots around.
Before the games began, junior center Aziz N'Diaye, who is rehabbing after toe surgery, worked alone in the gym. Abdul Gaddy didn't play and took a few shots on the side. He wasn't wearing a brace around his surgically repaired knee.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org