Washington Basketball had a coup last year when Lorenzo Romar made his most spectacular recruiting grab to date in Markelle Fultz. Many project Fultz to go number 1 in the NBA draft this year. Thus far he has lived up to expectation with pre-season highlight reel dunks, trick shots and overall athleticism. Despite the phenom Fultz’s potential, Washington was still picked to finish 9th in the Pac-12 this year. After the Huskies lost their opener to Yale at home the Pac-12 predictions seem to be possibly on point. Even with Fultz bringing top talent to the table Washington's team is not a well-rounded top tier team yet. Had they retained the services of Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss this team would be a potential final four squad, but with those two first round draft picks gone to the NBA, Washington has a new cast to try to make a run at getting back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. Watching Fultz throughout the season should help alleviate some of the stress and it's a little early to give up on a special season. Fultz will surely be a one and done player but Romar is going to do his best to make him a team leader that will accomplish something in his one year of college. Can Romar get the whole team ready for Pac-12 play and competing at a top level? That is yet to be seen.
In addition to Fultz the Huskies have some potential talent that is still underperforming but could make a mark this season. Noah Dickerson, Malik Dime, Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp all saw significant playing time last year and showed flashes of athleticism at times. David Crisp got hot behind the 3-point line against Long Beach State to help lead a comeback and seal the deal for the Huskies third win, one of the positive signs this season. Matisse Thybulle has stepped up to be the other leader along with Fultz. Thybulle fouled out though against Long Beach State repeating last season’s frequent foul out habits. Noah Dickerson was an even more notorious fouler last season racking up more fouls than almost any other player in the country. The Huskies starters will need to cure themselves of the foul woes from last season if they want to beat the tough Pac-12 lineup this year. Dominic Green was used sparingly last year but is set to get some more minutes this year and will be a regular in the lineup. The other big factor this season could be Sam Timmins who redshirted last year but is a big man who could make a splash. His 6’11” 265 pound frame may help the Huskies add some physical attitude to the Husky front court. Also, the Huskies have a bench they can go to if need be with Devenir Duruisseau, Bitumba Baruti, Carlos Johnson and Matthew Atewe. Johnson will likely see the most minutes of this second tier group for the Dawgs. Johnson saw enough minutes to foul out against Long Beach State. Of course, injuries and other factors could always change the throughout the season.
The bright spot thus far this year is a bumper crop recruiting class some have pegged as the second best in the country. The best pickup was Michael Porter Jr. the son of current Husky coach Michael Porter Sr. He was the number 2 player in the class which makes Romar back to back on getting one of the best in the country to come play in Seattle. The Huskies signed five players with Porter leading the class followed by Daejon Davis, Jaylen Nowell, Blake Harris, and Mamadou Diarra. Could this Washington's version of the infamous “Fab Five” in 2017? Let's hope so.
It's still early in the season and Markelle Fultz is only going to get better under Romar's tutelage. Husky fans are hopeful that he can put the team on his back and rally the troops to the NCAA tournament. Who knows, maybe Fultz will outperform even his lofty expectations by taking the Dawgs back to the tournament despite predictions otherwise.