The Washington Huskies and Lorenzo Romar are one of the most unique situations in college basketball. Washington is one of five, at most, schools in college basketball power conferences who would consider keeping their coach despite five straight NCAA Tournament absences.
Why do the Huskies continue to let Romar run the ship? The answer is simple: Recruiting. Heading into last season, Romar’s seat started to warm a bit, and then Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss proceeded to have exceptional freshmen campaigns to show Romar was still a great recruiter.
In Romar’s Class of 2016, there are a lot of nice pieces, with one crown jewel. Let’s take a look.
Let’s get the crown jewel out of the way first. Fultz, a five-star guard from Maryland, was recruited by nearly every major program in the nation, and for good reason: He’s seventh on ESPN’s Top 100 for 2016. Dating back to the Top 100’s inception in 2007, Romar had never landed a player higher than #19 (Nigel Williams-Goss, 2013). Fultz will only be Romar’s highest Top 100 player for one season, thanks to Michael Porter, Jr, but that’s another story for another time.
Back to Fultz, it’s easy to see why he’s so highly regarded. The dude is good at every aspect of basketball.
Ball-handling? You betcha.
Defense? Believe it.
Don’t believe me? Watch the video below. He makes excellent plays in all of the above facets in just the first 45 seconds.
Washington lost their top three scorers from last season in Andrew Andrews, Murray, and Chriss, so having a player like Fultz who can come in and make an immediate impact on both side of the ball will be a key to the Huskies competing in the Pac-12 this season.
Baruti, like Fultz, is listed as a shooting guard. However, at 6’6, one would imagine the native of Congo will see more time at small forward, unless Romar decides to go big.
Not a whole bunch is known about Baruti, who played at Virginia’s Mountain Mission School after leaving Congo, but Romar has praised the big man for his athleticism.
Below you can see a video of Baruti, who went by Harold in high school but is now back to his given name of Bitumba.
Oddly enough, Johnson is listed as a small forward despite being 6’4 compared to Baruti’s 6’6. Then again, aside from point guard and center, the other three positions in college basketball are generally pretty interchangeable depending on coach and personnel. Regardless, Johnson can benefit Washington offensively immediately. After a couple stops in high school, Johnson ended up at Findlay Prep for his final season, where he averaged 15 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Johnson originally committed to UNLV, and then their coaching situation went south, so he ended up at Washington.
You can see video of Johnson below.
Finally, we get to Sam Timmins. Timmins, a 6’10 New Zealand native is the tallest player on Washington’s roster this season, and a potential candidate to start at center on opening night.
Timmins has drawn comparisons to fellow New Zealand native and current Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams. If he can come in and make an impact on either (or both) side of the ball, Romar and the Huskies will be in great shape to make it back to the NCAA Tournament.
Timmins’ most recent highlight video can be found below.