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August 27, 2008
Point guard play has been a weak area the past two seasons, and three candidates will be looking to change that. Each brings something different.
Quincy Pondexter averaged 15.2 points per game in the last five games of the season.
Freshman Isaiah Thomas gives coach Lorenzo Romar another option. A four-star recruit, the 5-foot-8 Thomas is a shoot-first type who was a big-time scorer on the AAU level.
Overton, Dentmon and Thomas need to learn how to play together and do so quickly. With the departure of three shooting guards (starters Ryan Appleby and Tim Morris used up their eligibility, and reserve Joel Smith transferred to Division II Chaminade), Romar will frequently play two point guards at the same time and use a steady rotation of all three.
The powerfully built Brockman (6-7/245) was one of the most productive and dependable players in the nation last season, racking up 22 double-doubles and scoring in double-figures in every game last season. Brockman's best asset is pounding the glass. His 11.6 rebounds per game are the most of any returning player in the nation.
The Huskies are counting on junior small forward Quincy Pondexter to emerge as a steady scoring threat. Pondexter struggled to improve on his promising freshman campaign last season, but did finish strong, averaging 15.2 points over the Huskies' last five games.
There also is reason to believe sophomore power forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a native of England, will have a breakthrough season. Bryan-Amaning, a former four-star recruit, was one of the top players at the U-20 Euro Championships this summer.
Interior depth should be a strength thanks to senior center Artem Wallace, 7-footer Joe Wolfinger and redshirt freshman power forward Darnell Gant. Romar previously said Gant, who voluntarily took a redshirt last season, had developed enough to where he could have contributed near the end of last season.
With so many point guards and a number of big men who run well, the Huskies will look to score more in transition. The lack of a reliable 3-point shooter means they probably will face a lot of zone.
Outside of lowly Oregon State, the Huskies were probably the worst defensive team in the Pac-10 last season. They ranked next-to-last in opponents' field-goal percentage (45.1 percent) and eighth in scoring defense (70.8 ppg).
SHOES TO FILL
Appleby. This 3-point specialist will be missed, largely because of the lack of good outside shooters on the roster. Appleby's 77 3-pointers last season were nearly three times the next-highest total (Dentmon made 27) on the team.
MUST STEP UP
Pondexter. The lack of progress last season from Pondexter, who was pegged as the Huskies' next star, puzzled those within the program and around the Pac-10. An inside-outside scoring threat with good size and athleticism, Pondexter has all the physical tools to be a star in the league. The Huskies need him to start playing like one.
Thomas. A Washington commitment for more than 2½ years, Thomas is the Huskies' point guard of the future. Quick and crafty, Thomas has the ability to finish in the lane despite his lack of size. He has been impressive in summer pickup games with the team.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.