The Washington Huskies underachieved through most of the 2009-10 season, and a surprising run in the NCAA Tournament showed what they were actually capable of. Next year, this squad will have everyone returning with the exception of Quincy Pondexter.
Everyone knew that losing Pondexter was going to take away the number one scoring option for the Dawgs, but hey, they're getting big-man Enes Kanter from Turkey, and top-10 recruit Terrence Jones. Not to mention, juniors Clarence Trent and Elston Turner will return with more experience under their belts.
Fast forward, and the commitments from Kanter and Jones now belong to Darth Calipari at Kentucky, while Turner and Trent will both transfer.
So what does this mean for Washington? Well, in the long-run, they're going to be just fine.
Jones is an eccentric, six-foot-nine forward that had Quincy Pondexter 2.0 written all over him. He's going to be part of a Kentucky team that, even after losing four of their five starters, will likely compete for another SEC championship—for a year.
Jones will probably grace some highlight reels, and be a huge asset to a great college team- for a year.
After that, like John Wall and Demarcus Cousins before him, Jones is going to enter the NBA Draft.
So Washington will miss out on one year that could have been amazing. And I think what it came down to was Jones picking the school where he'll get the most publicity, and this clearly isn't Washington.
Lorenzo Romar's Huskies are the pure college basketball team. You don't typically see lots of Huskies making the leap to the pros after one or two seasons. That's why Romar has the tendency of developing players in college, and prepping them for the NBA.
Romar has had success with this formula too. What you end up with is a core of players who have experience at the college level, and eventually learn to win.
Take Brandon Roy and Pondexter. It wasn't really until their senior years that they became talented and mature enough to lead a team. Kings' forward Jon Brockman saw his most productive year at UW as a senior also.
Washington doesn't typically get the guys who are one-and-done in college. They haven't had one since Spencer Hawes left back in 2007. However, Washington has won a Pac-10 regular season and tournament championship since then.
Don't get me wrong Dawg fans, losing Jones just downright sucks. But in the end, Washington would have only been a temporary detour for a player who's already got the Association on his mind.
I look for Abdul Gaddy to come into his sophomore season more comfortable shooting the ball, while Isaiah Thomas will take on the primary leadership role.
Looking at Washington's 2010 recruiting class, things will still be fine. Without Jones and Kanter, this class isn't necessarily regarded as one of the best in the nation, but is still highlighted by forwards Terrence Ross and Desmond Simmons.
Ross is a top-100 recruit and a great perimeter shooter who could very easily have an instant impact.
Simmons will likely be more of a Pondexter story. It might take him a year or two before he starts to develop enough to see lots of time, but he's six-foot-seven and is a good shooter.
Don't worry Husky fans. This is a program that has an emphasis on getting proper development and experience, and 2010 will be an evidence of that.