Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten Jr. consider their NBA options
Washington guards Terrence Ross, a sophomore, and Tony Wroten Jr., a freshman, are being evaluated by an NBA committee that will provide feedback within a week to Ross and Wroten on their NBA draft prospects.
Seattle Times staff reporter
April 10: NCAA early entry deadline.
April 11: Regular signing period begins.
April 29: NBA draft early entry eligibility deadline.
May 16: End of signing period.
Huskies' offseason to-do list
Convince underclassmen to stay: The Huskies will return to the NCAA tournament if they can convince either sophomore wing Terrence Ross or freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. to stay. They led the team in scoring and both are considered first-round NBA draft picks. Keeping one of them would be a great benefit, but losing both would mean Washington would have to groom another star.
Identify leaders: Someone on the roster needs to step to the forefront and become the leader that was missing for most of the season. Abdul Gaddy appears to be the most qualified given the fact he is a three-year starter at point guard. However, there are other candidates. C.J. Wilcox is entering his fourth year and has star potential while Scott Suggs has been a co-captain this season and will be fifth-year senior next season.
Work on free-throw shooting: Washington ranked 328th in the nation during the regular season at 61.2 percent. That's unacceptable. What's worse, it's not an anomaly. Last season the Huskies shot 67.4 percent at the line.
Develop a low-post scoring threat: The Huskies need a Plan B. No matter who stays or returns, the team's offensive strength will likely be its perimeter shooting once again. Washington has an outstanding collection of guards. However, the front line is offensively deficient. Center Aziz N'Diaye is a defensive force, but he's grown marginally in two years as a low-post scorer. When the outside shots aren't falling, the Huskies need someone who can consistently score inside.
Commit to defense: This might be the top priority, but it's difficult to improve team defense during the spring and summer when coaches are allowed limited contact with players. Still, the biggest concern is whether UW will return to the ballhawking defense that tormented opponents during its most recent three-year NCAA tournament run. This year they forced just 482 turnovers, which is the fewest in at least the past four years.
Washington loses just one scholarship senior, and if nothing else changes, the Huskies bring back enough firepower to repeat as Pac-12 regular-season champions and return to the NCAA tournament after missing the Big Dance this year.
However, the situation isn't that simple.
Sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten Jr. — UW's leading scorers — are considered first-round NBA draft picks and they're contemplating turning pro.
On their behalf, Washington submitted paperwork for an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee.
Stu Jackson, the NBA vice president of basketball operations, leads the committee that's comprised of front-office personnel from 20 teams. According to the NBA, players will receive feedback no later than April 6.
In theory, that gives Ross and Wroten just four days to make a decision because the NCAA requires underclassmen to announce their intentions before April 10.
The NBA doesn't recognize the NCAA deadline, and its early entry eligibility deadline is April 29.
The differing dates create a loophole the NCAA didn't anticipate when it changed its deadline this year. In essence, underclassmen considering leaving school can say they're returning to buy a few weeks and ultimately submit their name for the draft before the NBA deadline.
The NCAA's new rules don't allow players to work out for NBA teams, which makes opting for the draft a bigger guessing game than ever.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said he plans to talk with Ross, Wroten and their families next week once the NBA evaluations return.
In the past few years, Romar has had similar conversations with former UW stars.
Brandon Roy, Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter considered opting for the draft as underclassmen, and each stayed four years at Washington. Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes and Isaiah Thomas chose to leave school early.
"To a man, 100 percent they all say it's a totally different world when you get to the NBA," Romar said. "Now your teammates have families. The camaraderie isn't the same. It's a business.
"Some guys don't see that, but there are a lot of guys that are ready for it. Each guy has to know. So I can't answer that question about if I think they should go or not. We give them the pros and cons, and they take it from there."
ESPN's Chad Ford has Wroten and Ross ranked 19th and 20th on his top 100 NBA list. ESPN, NBADraft.net and Draft Express project the UW players will be taken among the 19-26 picks.
Last week Wroten said he would consult with Ross and use that information to make his decision. Ross has said he'll seek advice from his mother.
"Whatever they do, they need to just make sure it's the best decision for them and not what the program wants or what your family wants," Thomas said. "They need to really think about everything — where you're going to get drafted, and the possibility if you don't get drafted, or if you slip.
"You've just got to think about everything. That's one of the biggest decisions of your life. It's not an easy decision. You've got to have the right people in your ear telling you the right things because everybody is going to be in your ear telling you you're going to be the No. 1 pick and you're going to be this and that."
When asked what he would do if he were Ross and Wroten, Thomas was vague.
"If they leave they're going to be talented players and if they stay I feel like they're going to be even better players," Thomas said. "But I'm never going to be a guy to tell anybody what to do because I went through that and it is a hard decision."
Ross averaged a team-leading 16.4 points, and his 6.4 rebounding average ranked second on the team.
He finished the season with a flurry, averaging 25 points in four National Invitation Tournament games. Many believe he elevated his draft status.
Meanwhile, Wroten struggled in the final weeks.
He has more points and assists than any freshman in UW history, but averaged just 10.5 points and 4.3 assists in the NIT.
"Ross should go and in my mind, Tony could use another year," ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. "That's how I see it. I wonder if others are telling them that."
Romar was also noncommittal on the issue.
Admittedly, he's in an awkward position because if he genuinely believes the UW players should return, he can still come across as self-serving.
Still, Romar said he understood when Robinson and Thomas left early because "they were what they were when they left." Romar thought a second year would have helped Hawes, but he gave his blessings because the former UW star was picked 10th overall.
"When you're talented enough and you have room to grow you should stay (in school) until you can come into that league and make an impact," Romar said. "I think you should stay until then.
"If you're going to go out and even if you're a first-rounder and you may spend some time in the NBDL or wait a couple of years before making an impact, then you may as well stay in school and get closer to your degree and be a little bit more ready to go."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com.
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