Projected starters for next season.
In-between transfers, graduates, and incoming recruits, University of Washington Men’s basketball’s starting squad next year is up in the air.
Here’s the most likely starting five for next year, with the potential challenger at each position.
Starter: Andrew Andrews
Challenger: Nigel Williams-Goss
This was a tough pick, but redshirt sophomore Andrew Andrews gets the nod over incoming freshman Nigel Williams-Goss.
After a redshirt year, Andrews put up around eight points, two assists and three rebounds in around 25 minutes a game in 2012-2013. The Oregon product has a tight handle and is cat-quick.
Williams-Goss is the highest profile recruit Washington is bringing in, and he will see major minute; but I think it is unlikely Lorenzo Romar starts a true freshman at point guard over a returner.
Williams-Goss has size, smarts and scoring ability. He is a high-character leader who is a natural at the 1-spot. But I think at least for the first part of the season, Romar will defer to Andrews’ college experience and familiarity with UW’s system.
Starter: CJ Wilcox
Challenger: Darin Johnson
The smooth shooting C.J. Wilcox recently announced he would return to Washington for his senior year instead of declaring for the NBA draft. Despite a nagging foot injury in the second half of the season, Wilcox still led the Huskies with 16 points a game, four rebounds and two assists.
Wilcox turned down the bright lights of the league for one more season, and he’ll start every game at 2-guard.
Although guards Quinn Sterling and Hikeem Stewart return, neither saw major minutes last year, so I project incoming freshman Darin Johnson to take a lot of Wilcox’s bench time if he doesn’t redshirt. Johnson is hyper-athletic and gives Washington a boost off the bench at the 2.
Starter: Desmond Simmons
Challenger: Mike Anderson
The frontcourt is where things start to get less clear for the Huskies. A number of players are capable of filling multiple roles. At small forward, I think the best fit right now is the experienced and versatile Desmond Simmons. Simmons was the team’s second leading rebounder and chipped in a few points a game.
With Aziz N’Diaye gone, expect Simmons to play a larger role in the paint, and possibly even see time at the 4.
But I think we’ll see him initially using his flexible skill set to hurt teams from the 3-spot.
A 6’5″ JUCO transfer out of Missouri, I can’t find much on possible back up small forward Mike Anderson. He’s also listed as a shooting guard in some places, but considering he averaged almost 10 boards a game at Moberly Area Community College – and Washington has a logjam of guards – small forward is a more likely destination.
Starter: Shawn Kemp Jr.
Challenger: Jernard Jarreau
Relative unknowns Perris Blackwell and Jernard Jarreau could see time here, but returner Shawn Kemp Jr. has to be the favorite after averaging around six and three in 12 minutes last year.
Husky Nation is hopeful he’ll play a larger role this season. At 6’10”, along with Gilles Dierickx, he’ll contribute to a large UW frontline. His 2012-2013 season reminded me some of Aziz a few years back; raw, unrefined and inexperienced, but flashing the physical tools to be a player.
I was excited to see Washington had landed a 6’10” big man named Jernard Jarreau out of New Orleans a few years back. Jarreau has a big man body and the touch and deftness of a guard. He put a solid three and three up last year averaging 12 minutes a game. He’s more than capable of contributing size and post presence to the team as a backup 4.
Starter: Gilles Dierickx
Challenger: Perris Blackwell
Many players, rappers, gangsters, and wiggers claim to “go hard in the paint.” Washington doesn’t.
A lack of size and scoring in the post has been a running problem for the Huskies ever since Jon Brockmann left. Matthew Bryan-Amaning contributed a few strong years as an undersized, yet uber-athletic post player, but there’s been a vacancy close to the hoop that’s handicapped Washington’s last few seasons.
With that said, I’m not sure 6”11” Florida International transfer Gilles Dierickx is the answer to Washington’s woes, but he’s the best option right now.
The tallest player on the team now that Aziz N’Diaye is gone, this upcoming season will be Dierickx’s first playing in purple and gold. Dierickx is unproven and didn’t put up great numbers at FIU, but for now, he’s what the Huskies will be trotting out at center.
Equally unknown and inexperienced is possible backup Perris Blackwell, the 6’9” USF transfer. But this duo has size, something Washington needs.
Andrews, Wilcox, Simmons, Kemp Jr., and Dierickx will be taking the court for the Huskies in the first exhibition game of next season. But more importantly, the Huskies also have size and athletic ability coming off the bench, giving this Washington squad a deeper, more well-rounded look than one-dimensional teams of past years.
It’s early, but I’m optimistic, and you should be too, Husky Nation.