After difficult debut, Washington's Gaddy looks to regain his swagger
SAN ANTONIO -- As a freshman last season, Washington's
But Gaddy and Bradley were off to divergent starts in college: Coming off the bench for the Huskies, Gaddy scored in double-figures just twice in the first 15 games and was plagued by foul trouble. Starting 12 of the Longhorns' first 15 games, Bradley hit double-figures nine times, scoring 20 against North Carolina and 29 against Colorado. Gaddy was happy to see his friend thriving, but troubled about his own performances. He'd wonder,
"I'd call Avery sometimes and say to him, 'Man, I don't know what do,'" Gaddy said. "College was so different, and I didn't know how to handle it at times. He'd say, 'Just play off of instinct. Have a swagger like you're the best player on the floor. That's how you did it in high school.'"
There were instances when Bradley's advice worked, such as before a home win over fellow Pac-10 front-runner Cal on Jan. 16, when Gaddy confidently dished out five assists in 20 minutes. But there were plenty of low points -- four fouls in 10 minutes at Texas Tech, four fouls in eight minutes at Washington State, four fouls (and four turnovers) in 12 minutes against Stanford -- that made for a difficult season. Gaddy finished with averages of 3.9 points and 2.3 assists in 18.2 minutes. He shot just 15.0 percent on threes. Bradley, meanwhile, averaged 11.6 points and shot 37.5 percent from three-point range. Even though Texas had less NCAA tournament success than Washington (losing in the first round while the Huskies reached the Sweet 16), Bradley was able to jump into the first round of the NBA draft, where the Celtics selected him with the 19th pick.
Gaddy had no other option but to stay in Washington's backcourt rotation, where he played behind veterans
When Romar met with Gaddy following the season, they talked about finding ways to play free and easy, or, as Gaddy calls it, "getting my swagger back." He was also encouraged to refine his shooting stroke -- he has better mechanics than his 15.0 percent three-point percentage would suggest, but needed more reps to build consistency -- and enlisted former Husky gunner
There was hope that Gaddy would display improvements in both accuracy and "swagger" (if such a thing can be measured) during his time with USA Basketball's U18 team in last week's FIBA Americas tournament in San Antonio, where he was the lone player with college experience on a star-studded roster. His opportunities there were limited, though, as he was stuck on the bench behind Duke-bound
If the FIBA tournament was part of the growth process for Gaddy, then it was also part of the hoops world coming to terms with what kind of player he is, without fixating on old recruiting rankings. He's not a John Wall, but to write off Gaddy's future as a valuable point guard would be shortsighted. One NBA evaluator in press row in San Antonio said Gaddy should set his sights on being a