To say that Washington has some roster turnover to deal with this season would be an understatement, as Lorenzo Romar’s program bid farewell to eight players through either graduation, transfer or dismissal. In their place are nine newcomers, with this class considered by some to be the best recruiting haul Romar’s reeled in during his tenure at Washington.
Given the overall lack of experience the newcomers will have to produce from the start, but in the case of freshman forward Marquese Chriss there will be some missed practice time. Chriss suffered a fractured wrist last month, and while the injury will result in some missed practice time he’s expected to be back in time for the Huskies’ season opener against Texas November 14 in Shanghai.
The 6-foot-9 Sacramento native is part of a front court that includes newcomers Malik Dime and Noah Dickerson, with all three needed to be contributors for a team looking to end a four-year NCAA tournament drought. Washington may lack experience, with guard Andrew Andrews being the team’s lone senior, but they don’t lack for bodies heading into the 2015-16 campaign.
That depth should allow Washington to play faster on both ends of the floor, something that has not happened consistently in recent years. The biggest need for improvement comes on the defensive end, where over the last three seasons the Huskies have struggled mightily.
It will be a whole new look for Washington next season when head coach Lorenzo Romar brings back only two scholarship players from the 2014-15 season. According to a release from the school, guard Quevyn Winters will not return for his senior season and he does not intend to transfer. He plans to end his college basketball career.
The loss of Winters, a 6-foot-5 wing, means only Andrew Andrews and Donaven Dorsey return from last season’s Washington team. Winters averaged 11 minutes per game for the Huskies last season, his only season with the school after transferring from Indian Hills. Appearing in 27 games, Winters averaged 3.4 points and 1.3 rebounds per game and shot 29 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point range.
The native of Milwaukee is the sixth player to leave the Huskies without exhausting eligibility since last season, as Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga), Jernard Jarreau (Tulane), Darin Johnson (Cal-State Northridge) and Gilles Dierickx (Seattle Pacific) all found new homes this offseason via transfer. Center Robert Upshaw was also dismissed from the team in late January and went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft.
While it may seem alarming that Washington has lost so many players this year, Romar is bringing in an overhauled roster that includes nine new players, seven of them freshman. The group was regarded as the No. 10 recruiting class in the country by Rivals, so there is hope for a quick turnaround this season after a disappointing 2014-15 season.
Markelle Fultz, a five-star point guard in the Class of 2016, committed to Washington on Friday night, announcing his decision live on ESPNU.
Fultz is rated as the No. 23 overall recruit in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked the Huskies over Arizona and Louisville. The 6-foot-4 guard had taken official visits to all three schools earlier this month.
“My relationship with him (head coach Lorenzo Romar) is unbelievable,” Futlz told ESPN‘s Paul Biancardi before the start of the Elite 24’s Dunk Contest on Friday night in Brooklyn. “He talks to me about almost everything, not just basketball-wise (but) off the court.”
The latest DeMatha Catholic High (Maryland) star played for the D.C. Blue Devils in the Under Armour Association, averaging 18.3 points per game in 12 appearances this spring and summer. He was the top scorer in the Under Armour Finals during the July live period, posting 19.0 points per contest.
He joins center Sam Timmins in Washington’s Class of 2016. This commitment adds to the talent Romar is amassing. His incoming freshman class includes shooting guard Dejounte Murray and power forwards Noah Dickerson and Marquese Chriss, all four-star prospects.