In gathering in a highly regarded recruiting class of three guards and a forward, the Washington Huskies mostly stayed home.
It is a testament to the program’s growth that grown that the Huskies’ four-member class is considered among the best on the West Coast when two of the players didn’t even play last season.
And another won’t wear a Husky uniform for another two seasons.
The class is highlighted by Tony Wroten, Garfield High’s 6-foot-4 guard and a member of the champion 2010 USA Basketball men’s developmental national team and a member of the Long Beach Press Telegram’s Best in the West.
Considered one of the best guards in the country, Wroten didn’t play for the Bulldogs last season after tearing his ACL.
“Tony has great vision and is the best passer in the country,” Coach Lorenzo Romar said. He is a serious competitor that is a great on-the-ball defender who possesses great quickness. He can go out and score if he has to, but is also satisfied going out and dishing out 15 assists and scoring 10 points.
Romar and his staff also brought in another Seattle star, 6-3 Rainier Beach guard Hikeem Stewart, younger brother of twins Lodrick (USC) and Rodrick (USC/Kansas) Stewart.
Hikeem can do a number of different things on the basketball court, Romar said. He has really good quickness, loves to play defense, is a great passer and more than capable shooter. He comes from a winning program and loves being a Husky.”
Another Northwest recruit is 6-2 guard Andrew Andrews from Portland’s Benson High. He averaged 20 points a game last season. However, it appears he may be heading for prep school next year to sharpen his game and academics.
The fourth recruit comes from Louisiana, 6-10, 190-pound forward Jernard Jarreau from McDonogh 35 High in New Orleans. He is the other recruit who did not play last season, due to a broken leg.
Jarreau began his prep career at 6-3 and developed solid back court skills But he grew seven inches in a year, moving him closer to the basket. Yet he still retains his guard skills, including a nice touch from beyond the arc.
The program under Romar has taken over elite status in the Pac-10, status once held by Arizona and UCLA.
We’re heading the right direction, as opposed to going the other way,” Romar said. Whether we’re in that role or not (conference bellwether), I don’t know. It’s not for me to say.”
He provided the media with a perspective on how much the program has grown in his nine years.
Before when we called people, our first year, they were excited because they thought we were (the Huskies of) UConn,” he said. So those conversations didn’t last very long.
Now they are more familiar. They know Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Jon Brockman, Spencer Hawes. They’ve seen us in the Sweet 16, they’ve seen us against UConn. There’s much more appreciation for the program now. It doesn’t mean we’re getting them in program but at least they’re listening to what we have to say.”
Asked how his program can sustain itself, Romar added, We have to continue to replace players we have now with players like them. If we’re able to do that, hopefully, we’re heading in right direction.
A snapshot of the recruits’ basketball backgrounds:
Tony Wroten – Ranked No. 22 overall by ESPNU, No. 8 point guard by Rivals.com (30th overall) and No. 9 point guard by Scout.com . . . 42 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to earn MVP in the Clash of the Classes Washington/Oregon All-Star game…named to the 2009 All-Washington State Class 4A first team by the Associated Press and All-Seattle Area Team by the Seattle Times twice (first boys basketball freshman to earn this accomplishment in 30 years of selection)…earned MVP honors at the 2009 state tournament…had to sit out junior season due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a football game…as a sophomore, started all 20 games and averaged 17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.6 blocks per game …helped lead Garfield to the Washington Class 4A Tournament championship game, earn the KingCo 4A crown, and finish with a 23-3 mark… led KingCo 4A in points and assists…as a freshman, averaged 20.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game…led KingCo 4A in scoring and listed among the top five in rebounds and assists…father was a football tight end at Washington and the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers; mother ran track at Washington and Arizona State University; aunt, Joyce Walker, earned a gold medal as a member of the 1983 USA Basketball World University Games Team, was a two-time All-America at Louisiana State University and the third woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters; cousin, Jimmie Haywood, played basketball at Oregon State University; cousin, Nate Robinson, played for UW, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
Hikeem Stewart – Scout.com’s No. 36 shooting guard in the country…as a junior, earned second-team All-Metro honors…helped lead Vikings to the Class 3A state tournament…helped lead his Friends of Hoop AAU team to the Final Four in Las Vegas Fab 48 tournament…older twin brothers played for Division I schools; Lodrick (USC), Rodrick (USC/Kansas). ..has a twin brother. Hikeem plays for a school that also produced Nate Robinson, Terrence Williams and Jamal Crawford.
Jernard Jarreau Played with the New Orleans Elite D1 Ambassadors AAU team over the summer…missed junior season due to broken wrist…started school as a 6-foot-3 guard before growing seven inches…considered a highly-skilled player for someone of his size…can hit the three-pointer.
Andrew Andrews – Plans to attend prep school after graduation and enroll at UW for the 2012 season…averaged 20 points and 8 assists as a junior…scored 11 points in the “Clash of the Classes”, an all-star game featuring some of the best talent in Washington and Oregon…played in the Rose City Showcase and the 2010 Hoop Xtravaganza, both featuring the top boys AAU teams, in Summer 2010 on the Inner City Players – Portland AAU Team…ranked 68th by ESPN among point guard prospects and is a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com…played in the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) and was called the “breakout player of the day” by Rivals.com…second-leading scorer in 2009 for ICP Portland AAU team including a game-high of 39 points during one contest.