Ross might be Washington’s top dog next season

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Washington’s trying to reload for 2011-12. It shouldn’t be a huge issue given the team’s guard talent and Lorenzo Romar’s preferred up-tempo style.

Question is, which potent weapon will the Huskies feature?

Let’s move past Darnell Gant. The senior might be the vocal leader, but he’s not their go-to guy. Same with point guard Abdul Gaddy, but only because it’s unclear how healthy his knee is after an ACL tear last season.

That leaves four players.

Incoming freshman Tony Wroten’s one of the most promising prospects of the Romar era. He’s big (6-4, 195), savvy (scouts rave about his passing skills) and confident (some might say cocky). If Gaddy’s bum knee lingers, expect Wroten to step into the lead guard role, though it’s hardly a smooth transition for most freshman guards.

But as Percy Allen notes in his latest Husky Blog post, Wroten already displayed promising chemistry with teammates during pickup games, probably because he never hesitates to involve them in the offense. That’s why he’s already on Drew Cannon’s list of college hoops’ top 100 players.

Senior guard Scott Suggs might be the team’s most versatile player. He was their top 3-point shooter (45 percent) and has improved his ball-handling enough that he could play guard. He’s also big enough to play forward. Yet Suggs seems more suited as a role player, filling in where needed.

Sophomore C.J. Wilcox has the opposite problem. He’s always been Washington’s purest outside shooter, but has had issues creating his own shot. Allen notes that Wilcox’s handle has improved somewhat, but not enough to boost his role. He remains a potent weapon off the bench, not a featured player.

That leaves sophomore Terrence Ross, who impressed Allen with his aggressiveness and skill. From his blog:

Even with NBA players on the court, at times Ross looked like the best player on the floor. Still if you were drafting a team of the players Thursday, the 7-1 Hawes would probably be the first person taken. But Ross would likely go No. 2. He thrives in an open-gym setting. He wowed the few folks in the stands with high-flying dunks, alley-oop slams and putback jams. Whenever anyone guarded him one-on-one, Ross either tried to blow past them with a dribble drive or he jabbed and whirled to create room for a fadeaway jump shot. Ross, a 20-year-old sophomore, also looks much more chiseled than he did last season.

Allen’s far from the only UW onlooker expecting big things from Ross. Ross rates higher than Wroten on Cannon’s list (and will probably be the highest Husky), both for his offensive skill and development down the stretch last season when he averaged 13 points a game in the team’s final five games.

Expect more of that in 2011-12. Washington’s still lacks size, which means it’ll certainly push the pace and create opportunities for guys like Ross, Wroten and Wilcox to put up plenty of shots. The one who can create his own shot will be the main man next season. Right now, that sounds like Ross.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.