Op Ed: Wroten is not a Make-or-Break Recruit

Much has been talked about the importance of Tony Wroten’s recruitment since Wroten was in seventh grade. Tabbed as the “#1 player” in his class at an early age, Wroten has become one of the sought after recruits for the 2011 class.

Being that he plays and lives in the Seattle area he is seen as a “must get” for Lorenzo Romar and his staff to add to the Washington basketball program. These people stress that it is important to protect the players in the state and ensure a strong pipeline for the local talent leads to Washington.

While that is a very understandable argument to make, in the case of Wroten it should not apply.

I know, I know; why wouldn’t I want the supposed #1 player in the country? For one thing it is much more important for Romar to be able to locate the players that best fit his blueprint for the program.

The best example of this would be Spencer Hawes, who came in highly touted and nationally recruited but did not fit the Romar blueprint at the slightest. Now I love Spencer and he has been a great post-Husky, but the arrival of Hawes basically forced the Huskies to run a more half-court offense when the team had finished up two of its most successful seasons as a fast break offense.

Wroten  fits into this fast paced offense much better than Hawes ever would, but this leads to the question of whether or not he is even the best fit for the Huskies in the 2011 class.

Looking at the possible recruits there is another guy who is high on Romar’s list and possibly be one of his top targets.

Gary Bell is an absolute must get for Romar in my eyes, much more than that of Wroten. When I see Wroten I see a kid who sees college as a speed bump on his way to the NBA. Whether or not he has the talent to make that jump is one question (as I’ll discus later), but this desire should raise the eyebrow of many who do not want to relive another Hawes experience.

Bell on the other hand seems to be a guy who can come in and be a four year player, and one the best four year players in the country at that. Because he lacks the prototypical size for a shooting guard he is not a national recruit… yet.

What Bell would bring to the Huskies is a consistent scoring threat and a guy who will go bonkers from deep. Watching him play with his Kentridge team it was confusing at first to even locate which one of the Chargers players he was. At only 170 pounds (likely after three Thanksgiving dinners, he looks skinnier than that) he did not appear to be the same player I imagined when I first heard of who he was and that he held an offer from Washington.

But as the game tipped off (against Josh Smith and Kentwood as a matter of fact) it was clear who Bell was.

He brought a smooth jump shot and a unique ability to drive to the hoop despite his size, similar to Isaiah Thomas. Bell was also able to distribute the ball incredibly well to his teammates. On more than one occasion he threw a nice pass up to his teammate Shaquille McKissic for a nice slam.

Perhaps the only thing holding back Bell from being elite is his size, and we all saw the difference of Thomas from when he left Curtis to when he first arrived to Washington. It was night and day, the definition of the cliche perhaps.

But when I see Wroten I see someone who will command the ball a lot and might not be the best for the team. In the state tournament I watched him play and was not impressed with his effort. Many times defensively he would sit back behind the half-court line and watch his teammates play 4-on-5. For a team in Washington where Romar has stressed defense (and the playing time of guys like Justin Holiday who are practically there just for defense and entrance passes), this is the exact type of effort that would cause a breakdown of the team.

Some said afterwords that it was because he was sick, which still does not explain sitting back on defense at the slightest. Making no effort is placing yourself ahead of the team, something that would not be great for the Huskies after witnessing how tight last year’s team was. My theory right now is that he simply does not care about his high school team as much as his AAU team, so who knows what will happen if the Huskies are the only team he plays for.

The maddening part of Wroten whenever I saw him play was that when he did play defense, he had great anticipatory skills where he knew what was going to happen. But that was only seen a few times, and about the same he did go back to help.

But this is not meant to degrade Wroten, it is meant to point out that he is not a must get recruit based on what Washington needs. Here is a look at the roster for the 2011 season before any freshman are added.

  1. Darnell Gant, F/C, SR (RS)
  2. Isaiah Thomas, G, SR
  3. Elston Turner, G/F, SR
  4. Scott Suggs, G, SR
  5. Tyreese Breshers, F, JR (RS)
  6. C.J. Wilcox, G, JR
  7. Clarence Trent, F, JR
  8. Desmond Simmons, F, SO
  9. Charles Garcia Replacement Scholarship, SO
  10. Freshman
  11. Freshman
  12. Freshman
  13. Freshman

A few of the variables I took into account were that Abdul Gaddy will leave after his sophomore year, nobody leaves early for the NBA, and that Romar will bring on another 2010 player now that there is another scholarship opened up by Charles Garcia failing to qualify with no immediate plans to add a 2009 recruit.

Most likely you will have then three (if Gaddy stays) or four scholarships for the class 0f 2011. What appears would be the line of attack for Romar would be to add guards and one big man with a roster shaped like this. To me it appears that the Garcia scholarship will go to a point guard since Romar will not want Thomas being the only one during his senior season, making someone like a Gary Franklin a logical choice for that scholarship.

Now lets play with the idea that a point guard was awarded a scholarship, that will still mean that it is vital to add a point guard so that Franklin (or whoever, I’m just using his name) wont be the only one his sophomore year. Likely two point guards should be added, and whether or not Romar views Bell as a point is up in the air. Some view Wroten as a point, but I think that is absurd and will not consider it. He is a ball primary scorer who does not distribute like a point guard should, a two guard is what he translates best to at the college level.

It should be very interesting to see what Romar does with that Garcia scholarship because it appears right now that once Thomas leaves (and likely no Gaddy around) that the team will lack the true go-to-guy that is necessary to win. Whether or not someone like Clarence or Simmons can develop into that seems unlikely, but of course you never can tell (especially since they have yet to even play at the college level).

But with a 2011 class that seems to be very heavy with guards and a strong local talent in Bell, the need to land Wroten is not necessary. Wroten could very well be the DeMar DeRozan type player where he performs a few great dunks and allows the team to slip into the tournament, but after that its NBA and the college team is left scrambling.

Adding players like Bell and a big man in Angelo Choi will allow Romar to continue to develop his team and make them into consistent winner instead of up-and-down bumps the team has experienced the last four years. I encourage you to think of players such as Quincy Pondexter who develop into amazing players, a cycle of that every year is what could put the Huskies over the top.

No matter where Wroten ends up, Washington should still be a tournament team. The “Hawes Effect” is something the Huskies may want to avoid again.


1 Comment

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One response to “Op Ed: Wroten is not a Make-or-Break Recruit

  1. Paul

    That was a great read, it was interesting to hear your observations on players whose names I’ve heard but have never seen play (except I did see some of that h.s. championship game on FSN so caught a little of Wroten).

    I agree completely with your comments on preferring a good four-year player over someone who views college as a one year stop to the NBA.

    I also liked your comment regarding Holiday’s ‘entrance passes’. His defense gets so much attention that I felt his fabulous entrance passing was overlooked, yet he impressed me with that all season long.

    You made the comment on 2011 potentially lacking a go-to-guy. Two names you didn’t mention were Breshers and Wilcox. I’ve never seen either play, but reports on Breshers indicate he may be an awfully good inside scorer when necessary…but the one I have higher hopes for is Wilcox. Rumors I’ve heard are he is more than just an outside shooter, that he can get to the rim when he wants as well.

    I guess we’ll know more in a few months – but fun to think about and I enjoy reading your opinions.

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