One of the most anticipated University of Washington basketball teams in recent memory, built around a pair of 5-star freshmen big men and a Kentucky transfer, looked every bit as good as advertised by beating Baylor 67-64 in last year's season opener.
A year later, after that team unceremoniously crashed and burned at midseason, the Huskies trot out a new version against now second-ranked Baylor.
Without the hype. Size. Stars.
Oh, the former Kentucky player, point guard Quade Green, is back in the lineup after a 17-game academic suspension, but those high-level recruits Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, have moved on to the NBA, drafted two weeks ago.
Following the unmitigated 15-17 disaster, this Huskies have rebuilt themselves around of an infusion of transfers yet bring a high level of uncertainty to this Bears game, which will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 3 p.m. To view it, you'll need to subscribe to FloSports streaming.
"Last year we had so much talent and it hurt losing all those games," said Jamal Bey, the Huskies' 6-foot-6 junior guard from Las Vegas. "I'm a winner. That's what I came here to do. That's how I play."
To get back on the right track, Mike Hopkins has brought in transfers in 6-9 post player J'Raan Brooks, who sat out last season and last played at USC in 2018-19; shooting guards Erik Stevenson from Wichita State and Cole Bajema from Michigan, who don't have to miss a season for changing schools; and point guard Nate Pryor, who comes in from North Idaho College.
All of these guys are originally from Washington state and have come home. Brooks and Stevenson should be in the starting lineup against Baylor, joining 6-9 senior Hameir Wright, Green and Bey, though the Huskies haven't publicly revealed a starting lineup.
Sophomore guards Marcus Tsohonis and RaeQuan Battle, both starters at times during their first season in Hopkins' program, should receive plenty of time, as should 6-11 sophomore Nate Roberts.
Senior wingman Naz Carter apparently won't be available after drawing a suspension for a code of conduct violation that appears fairly serious. He scored a career-high 23 points against Baylor in last year's game.
The Huskies have only Green and Wright back as starters from last year's game that was played in Alaska, while Baylor returns three starters in guards Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell, which is considered one of the top backcourts in the nation. Butler scored 18 against the UW in Alaska.
Hopkins will be looking for new energy from the newcomers and short memories from the holdovers in establishing a player rotation.
"We have that chip on our shoulder this year," Bey said. "I feel we didn't have it as much last year."
Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven
Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated
Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Husky Maven. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.