Something to Chew On: How Good is Huskies' BPJ? Will He Play Against WSU?

Dan Raley

His abbreviated name sounds more like your standard peanut butter and jam sandwich, only with a letter variation. Stretched out, he looks more like an extra-long sub.


As the Washington basketball season winds down, 7-foot, 245-pound redshirt freshman forward Bryan Penn-Johnson might be the most interesting player on the Huskies roster, partly because he's been the least utilized. But there's a basketball player in there, his coach insists.

"He hasn't got a sniff, but he can play," UW coach Mike Hopkins said. "He's going to be a great player."

For now, the huge left-hander has appeared in just seven Husky outings, including the last two against California and Stanford, while waiting his turn. Could he play in a third straight game against Washington State on Friday?

A Long Beach, California, product, Penn-Johnson is an extremely raw talent who, ready or not, will have to play next season with the expected departures of NBA-bound Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. 

He's pulled just 33 minutes of action this season, but he's provided glimpses of his skill set. He's near perfect in a very limited amount of shot attempts--connecting on 4-of-5 field goals and sinking all three of his free throws. Yet he doesn't appear to have a go-to offensive move yet. 

Where the intrigues lies with this bouncy big man is in his 74-inch wingspan and his ability to touch the rim from a standing position with a 10-foot-1 reach. Not surprisingly, he's blocked 9 shots so far, or one for every 3-plus minutes he's been on the floor.

He wears Michael Jordan's No. 23, but he wants to pattern himself after the San Antonio Spurs' retired standout Tim Duncan. 

"He's my hero," BPJ told at the beginning of the season. "He perfected the back-to-the-basket game. I think he was the greatest power forward to play the game."

The Huskies would settle for a slight resemblance to Duncan and be overjoyed with that. Others see potential.

"Penn-Johnson has incredible length and an insane standing reach," an analyst sized up, "allowing him to make plays above the rim that others players can't make."

As the Huskies prepare for Washington State, Penn-Johnson may or may not see action. But watching him during warm-ups is entertainment all by itself.

His classic move is a dribbling exhibition performed while seated, even better if the music overhead is to his liking. With long arms, he sends the ball every which way but always under control, with head bopping.

He's playful with his teammates, wrapping them up in big bear hugs while cackling. 

BPJ already is a fan favorite, drawing healthy applause when he enters or exits one of his short stints. Fans will consider it an added bonus if he plays against the Cougars.

Comments (1)

I could see him playing against WSU. He has started to prove himself and I don't know why UW wouldn't take advantage of any offense they can get.