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.
Washington loses veteran guard who will not return to the team
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.
Five-star guard Markelle Fultz commits to Washington
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.
One of the top players in the Class of 2016 is ready to make his college decision.
Friday afternoon it was announced that five-star guard Markelle Fultz will make his decision at the Elite 24 slam dunk and three-point contests in Brooklyn on national television. The DeMatha Catholic product saw his recruitment take off during the spring and summer, emerging as one of the nation’s top prospects.
Fultz has taken three of his five available official visits to this point, with Arizona, Louisville and Washington being the hosts (Washington the most recent), and both Kentucky and North Carolina offered him in July. And when it comes to the three schools Fultz has visited officially, each has a need for a guard who can be an offensive difference-maker either on or off the ball.
Arizona will lose senior Gabe York at the end of the 2015-16 season, with freshmen Allonzo Trier and Justin Simon among those in the backcourt who have eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming campaign. And while Washington is relatively young on the perimeter, they do have to account for the upcoming loss of senior Andrew Andrews. Louisville will lose two veterans in graduate transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, with wing V.J. King due to join a group that includes Donovan Mitchell in 2016-17.
Both Louisville and Washington have commitments in the Class of 2016 already, with the Cardinals having landed the aforementioned King and the Huskies holding a pledge from center Sam Timmins.
Five-star 2017 forward Michael Porter Jr. cuts list to ten
That player would be 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter Jr., who made the announcement just days after his younger brother Jontay verbally committed to Washington. And the Huskies, who are coached by Michael’s godfather (Lorenzo Romar), made the cut as did Duke, Missouri, Stanford, Kentucky, UCLA, Syracuse, Indiana, Kansas and Virginia.
Missouri’s another program that has close ties to the Porter family, with two of Michael’s older sisters on the women’s team and his father serving as an assistant coach. Michael Porter is one of the most skilled players in high school basketball regardless of class, and his versatility will make his recruitment an intense one.
While a decision may not be coming any time soon, Porter has taken the step of narrowing things down in order to focus on just a handful of schools.
Video credit: Courtside Films
2018 power forward Jontay Porter commits to Washington
Despite the fact that he’ll only be a sophomore in high school this upcoming season, Jontay Porter already stands 6-foot-9. And even with that youth, the younger brother of five-star 2017 forward Michael Porter Jr. already knows where he wants to play college basketball. Sunday afternoon Porter announced via Twitter that he’s verbally committed to play at Washington for Lorenzo Romar.
Given the fact that Porter’s still three years away from playing college basketball, he may not be done growing given his current height. The left-handed Porter played for the Mo-Kan Elite grassroots program this summer, following his freshman season at Tolton Regional Catholic HS.
There’s also the matter of the two families being especially close, with Romar and Michael Porter Sr. being teammates on an Athletes in Action team as collegians. Romar is also the Michael Jr.’s godfather.
Those connections nearly led to Michael Sr. joining the Washington program as an assistant, but the current assistant on the Missouri women’s team decided to remain in Columbia.
Among the reasons why Porter Sr. turned down the job according to the Columbia Daily Tribune was the opportunity to continue coaching his oldest daughter (Bri will be a sophomore this season) with another daughter (Cierra) committed to join the program in 2015-16.
Whether or not Jontay’s commitment affects Michael Jr.’s recruitment remains to be seen, but if you’re Washington this isn’t a bad move to make regardless of any possible impact.