Huskies Are Playing for Their Scholarships Now

Dan Raley

Every game is an audition now.

While members of Washington's woeful basketball team rotate in and out of the remaining outings, impervious to any cohesive offensive plan, they should worry about more than shots and minutes.

Their scholarships, for instance.

As the last-place Huskies (12-13 overall, 2-10 Pac-12) prepare to play at UCLA (14-11, 7-5) on Saturday night, bringing a seven-game losing streak to the Pauley Pavilion party, a roster review seems timely.

When a program flatlines like this one has, personnel changes are practically an offseason given. 

Coaches recognize their future employment depends on admitting to their recruiting mistakes and making amends. Players get asked or opt to go elsewhere, no longer valued or discouraged by the taste of losing.

Mike Hopkins, as loyal as he is as a players' coach, will have tough decisions to make. He's whiffed on a few of these guys. He'll have to own up to it. 

Freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, two who have immense basketball skills, likely are down to seven college games each before they turn their attention to NBA draft early entry. 

Stewart is ready for it, McDamiels is not. McDaniels will leave anyway. Both will probably figure out the pro game, though Stewart more quickly.

Juniors Naz Carter and Hameir Wright will best be remembered in 2020 for mindlessly tossing up one 3-pointer after another that missed and failing to accept leadership roles. 

They'll return as seniors and play out the string. Both have taken big steps back in their career progression.

Carter has enough physical ability to play in the NBA, but he makes a lot of poor decisions with the ball. That needs to be corrected or he plays overseas.

Wright's limitations have come to the forefront. He's a reserve starting by default. He shoots 32 percent from the floor, the worst among anyone in the rotation.

Sophomores Jamal Bey, Elijah Hardy and Quade Green, all guards, might not be long for the program. 

Bey has started 10 games and, unlike his cousin at Colorado, has made no discernible breakthrough as a player. 

Hardy is supposed to be a playmaker and was the first man up as the starter replacing Green. He hasn't started again. He likes to shoot more than pass. He's a miserable 3-for-20 from 3-point range and keeps launching them. He should learn to pass.

Green can play but he lasted just 15 games and let the program down by flunking out. It seems questionable whether he rejoins the Huskies again or not. Can he be trusted to stay eligible?

Best bet is one or two of these backcourt players gets encouraged to move on.

Seven-footer Bryan Penn-Johnson and 6-10 Nate Roberts, both redshirt freshman, will shoulder the hopes of the UW frontline. They'll become the starters once Stewart and McDaniels move on. They have limitations. It's their hands; they fumble a lot of passes. 

Unless one gets impatient and bolts, Penn-Johnson and Roberts should be three-year starters. They're dunkers and short-range shooters. Neither one will be double-teamed like Stewart is.

That leaves freshmen Marcus Tsohonis and RaeQuan Battle. They should be program keepers. They're not there yet. They've only got a taste.

Tsohonis has an unconventional shot, but he tries hard to move the ball around and get it inside. Battle has a pretty shot, but it doesn't go in like it will later on.

These two guards might be the foundation of the future Huskies, teaming with a bunch of newcomers. 

Every game is an audition.