A Way Too Early UW Basketball Starting Lineup to Consider

Here are five guys to introduce before tipoff next season, subject to change, of course. A lot of change.
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A 6-foot-6 senior from Las Vegas, Nevada, starting at guard for the Huskies, Jamal Bey!

Cue the purple smoke and overhead spotlight.

High-fives all around.

Now Bey will be here next season, won't he?

With so much University of Washington basketball roster cleansing over the past week, It's time to take a Hec Edmundson moment and consider a possible starting lineup for this new horse trader Mike Hopkins.

It will barely resemble the Husky personnel that suffered through the 5-21 meltdown.

Which is probably a good thing. 

Someone seems to have told Hopkins that he had to gut the whole thing, probably encourage guys to land elsewhere and start over, and he did. 

It's been painful to watch, but it had to be done. 

The 2020-21 season forever will be known as the season in which the Huskies beat the COVID-19 virus and practically nothing else.

In the remake, we begin with Jamal Bey at shooting guard.

A remnant, a survivor.

He was an efficient shooter on a terrible-shooting UW team, leading the Pac-12 in 3-point marksmanship, though he didn't take nearly enough shots. 

Instead, Bey went looking for teammates to pass to when players such as Quade Green, Hameir Wright and Erik Stevenson simply couldn't wait to let it fly, even if one of them had missed 10 consecutive attempts. 

Bey will be the only starting lineup evidence that last season existed at all, if not the one family heirloom recovered from the house fire, a little singed but intact. 

Hopkins needs to prod him a lot: Shoot the damn ball.

Also, Jamal Bey, meet Jackson Grant.

The incoming freshman is not a savior by any means, but he will be your new best friend — Grant is a 6-foot-10 big man who can score any number of ways, including fairly accurately from 3-point range, and he plays dedicated defense. He will open up all sorts of avenues for others to score. 

That did not happen at any time last season. Guards playing off their big men. 

Picture Grant, a top 35 recruit from Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington, as another Spencer Hawes, only two inches shorter.

Even if he's a little undersized, weight-wise, stick Grant in there from the first day, play him long minutes and make him learn on the job.

He will be a vast improvement over the other guys, who provided no discernible offense inside or out and didn't defend the zone very well either. 

If the Huskies are going to have any chance of winning again, start African import Samuel Ariyibi next to Grant up front. 

That means sitting down a veteran.

While there's not a lot of video available online of him, the 6-foot-8 Nigerian in one clip showed he can go to the basket hard and dunk it.  Here's hoping Ariyibi has a short jumper to go with it and an interest in defense, too. 

Joining them in the front court will be 6-foot-7 Cole Bajema, yes, another familiar face though not a returning starter, with the stipulation he has to create offense, not wait for it to come to him. 

He has 24 games under his belt at Washington and another 10 at Michigan, so people obviously think he can play. Bajema needs to show it in a big way, abandon his polite nature and work off the two new big men. Maybe lead this team in scoring.

If not, the next new player to the program, likely another power forward, somebody 6-8 or 6-9, will take this spot. That person is just not here yet.

Terrell Brown drives to the basket against Oregon.

Terrell Brown drives on Oregon. 

Finally, for a season at least, Terrell Brown will be the point guard. 

Yes, the local product can score in bunches (20.2 ppg at Seattle U in 2019-20), but he needs to take charge of the team, run the floor and get everybody involved. That just didn't happen this past season. 

There you have it: Ariyibi, Bajema, Bey, Brown and Grant.

The ABGs. Call them what you want.

More front-line skills, maybe a floor leader who sticks to that role. 

You now have players who spent time at college basketball powerhouses Arizona and Michigan, a national homegrown recruit, an African newcomer and a lone starter from the Husky crash of 2021. 

Next Hopkins and company will need to fill out the bench, plus find designated reserve roles for 6-foot-11 Nate Roberts, the displaced starter, and 7-foot-4 Riley Sorn. Use that height to an advantage. It will take some work, though.

Make both of them buy into dexterity drills throughout the offseason, where you can feed them the ball and they catch it. Over and over. It's that simple. It was a struggle this past season.

That leaves freshman point guard Dominiq Penn to figure out a way to get on the floor.

Can you win with that?

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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