I think we have all come to the conclusion that the NBA returning to Seattle now stands as a distant possibility. The current economic climate has further hindered the chances of the return of professional basketball in Seattle in the foreseeable future. This gaping void in a large basketball market leaves fans of the sport with the difficult decision of fulfilling their hoops fix elsewhere. So where do basketball fans in the area turn now?
The obvious option would be the Huskies, and then there is the tempting notion to follow the Blazers, or dare I even say, follow the Thunder. But how about the Seattle University Redhawks? They are not going to win games out of the gate, but if you want to follow a potential powerhouse program, I suggest you start following Seattle U.
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, I did in fact use the word powerhouse. Seattle U has the potential to follow the Gonzaga mold and become a powerhouse program out of a mid-major conference. Would it not be ironic if Seattle U ended up in the WCC, the same conference that plays home to Gonzaga?
The Bulldogs have already had their fair share of competition with St. Mary's beginning to gain more ground the past couple of years. If Seattle U can successfully join the WCC, they could immediately establish themselves as one the contenders of their division. They already proved that they could defeat a WCC team last year in their extreme Division I infancy. Granted, it was Loyola Marymount, but still.
It would not be stretch to say in five years that the Redawks would be competing with St. Mary's and Gonzaga for a WCC championship. Looking at all the stars that are aligned in SU's favor, I have a good feeling that they will be successful in a timely manner. First of all, a solid coaching staff is vital to college basketball success. All it takes is a quick look over to the 509 with Mark Few's Gonazaga to see that the key to creating a sustainable competitive basketball atmosphere is investing in a devoted and reliable coaching staff. Seattle University has made this a priority with the signing of Cameron Dollar, perhaps one of the most underrated hirings in the entire country this off season.
Dollar has a handful of basketball connections within the Seattle area that have come from his seven years as an assistant coach under Lorenzo Romar UW. Dollar was Romar's right hand man, and was crucial in UW's efforts to lure top talent, which include NBA players like Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman.
Dollar's well-known recruiting ability in a city constantly gaining respect for being a hotbed for basketball talent assures that he can build the Seattle U basketball program solely with local talent. The Redhawks will be an attractive fallback option to local high school players who do not quite possess the talent or hype targets for major D-I programs like UW.
Another thing Seattle U has going for it is although the team will not be on the national spotlight, players will still get adequate exposure to open up future possibilities in professional basketball when their college careers are over.
How awesome would it be to see local high school talent that we have seen mature and develop with our own two eyes come together on a D-1 basketball team, creating a nationally competitive team that we can all stand behind?
This is not to say that Dollar will not go out of the area to find some talent, but it makes it a whole lot easier to rebuild when your program's backyard is already filled with legit basketball talent.
The Seattle U basketball program will also benefit from the fact that it is located right in downtown Seattle. With games being at Key Arena, Seattle U is able to tap into a market that not just includes its normal fan base, but also potential new fans who have been left in the dust by the NBA.
It is going to take awhile, but I am psyched about Seattle U basketball. Hopefully the WCC will let them in, allowing SU to successfully complete their transition into the Division 1 level. Seattle U should find no trouble in creating rivalries with UW, Gonzaga, and WSU, which will make for easy scheduling in the non-conference slate at least, and an even more intensely dynamic battle for the right to call themselves top team in Washington.
This program is undeniably on the rise. It will only be a matter of time until they make a name for themselves in the local and national basketball landscape, leading future generations of basketball fans to forget all about the hiatus that took the team out of it in the first place.