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Husky Basketball at Midseason Is Better But Not Fully Restored

The latest UW team still has plenty of weaknesses that make it a .500 team.
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Fifteen games into the season with 14 or 15 games remaining, the University of Washington basketball team is competitive again following one of the worst stretches in program history.

The Huskies play hard, share the ball and win at a clip just over .500, which is a huge improvement.

On the downside, they have no inside scoring, which will prevent them from being a tournament team any time soon, and their coach still hasn't shown himself to be great recruiter or in-game tactician.

Or did you not notice that his Huskies nearly squandered a 21-point lead against Stanford and did almost nothing to deal with the momentum shift for an entire half other than to hang on for dear life?

Or that the coach somehow still has his job after losing an incredible 41 of 56 games over three seasons before sweeping the Bay Area schools? 

Designating this as the halfway mark of Hopkins' fifth season, we take a look at him and the scholarship players on the roster, and note their progress or lack of it, and offer midseason grades. Be forewarned, we're not an easy grader.

Terrell Brown — Leading the conference in scoring at 21 points per game while shooting fewer than two 3-pointers an outing, the 6-foot-3 senior guard has exceeded expectations since transferring from Arizona. He's a team-first guy who has an uncanny way of creating shots and creating turnovers, and he shoots 45 percent. Grade: A 

Emmitt Matthews Jr. — If this guy only had a big man to work with, he'd be so much more effective. That said, the 6-foot-7 junior averages 11.3 ppg, can hit the 3, dunk with ferocity and keeps his cool at all times. The former West Virginia player will be the main man for the Huskies next year if he chooses to come back with a provisional pandemic season. Grade: B 

Daejon Davis — He averages 8.3 points and 2.6 assists per game in his fifth full season of college basketball, with the first four coming at Stanford. We'd like to see him take more of a playmaker role and shoot less from 3-point range. He should have double the assists. Yet he's been a hard-nosed player who's helped make the program competitive again. Grade: B- 

Jamal Bey — One of the best outside shooters in the Pac-12, he takes 8 attempts per game. While his unselfishness is to be commended, Bey takes it a little too far and actually hurts his team. They need his points. The 6-foot-6 junior scores 9 a night and he should be in the 13-14 range. He's scored in double figures in just two of his past eight games, three times coming up with a mere 2 points. Grade: C

Nate Roberts — The guy is extra fit and plays hard, but he's so limited as a basketball player it's mind-boggling, especially for a starter. He's scored in double figures just twice this season and averages 3.9. It's on the coaching staff that the 6-foot-11 junior doesn't have a soft jump hook, one that he shoots a couple hundred times in practice and can make 2-3 times per game. He should be coming off the bench in short stints. Grade: D+  

PJ Fuller — He started at TCU, so why not at the UW? The 6-foot-4 junior guard plays extremely hard, scores 8.3 ppg and is the team's second-best shooter at 41 percent. Even Hopkins admits he needs to play this guy more. Does he not hold up his end of the zone defense? Grade: C+

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Cole Bajema — We've seen a glimpse of his outside shot where he scored 15 and 18 at Colorado and Utah, all on 3-pointers. The Huskies need to run plays to get him and his 4.6 scoring average more open on the perimeter. Slight of build, the 6-foot-6 sophomore is probably in the right role, coming off the bench for 15 or more minutes and some quick points. Grade: C

Jackson Grant — A McDonald's All-American, the 6-foot-10 freshman forward looks fully capable but he's still plays a little starstruck at times. We'll put that on the coaches for not having him ready to play sooner. At places such as Gonzaga, UCLA and Arizona, they take their big-name recruits and throw them to the fire right away. Marv Harshman would be looking for ways to make Grant learn on the job, even start and suffer with him, rather than wait for the kid to figure it all out on his own. He draws 8.3 minutes per game and it should be double that. Grade: C

Langston Wilson — He has great hops and appears to be a solid team player, but he has just one season of competitive basketball on the JC level behind him. It shows, particularly in his shooting, which is just 29 percent. The 6-foot-9 forward plays more than Grant, though. We'd put him on a high-volume shooting regimen of short jumpers and one-handers in practice until the ball begins to drop for him. Grade: C-

Riley Sorn — Schools such as BYU and St. Mary's will take a guy who's 7-foot-5 like Sorn and find a place for him on the floor. The Huskies were wise to the potential advantage that Sorn and his wingspan affords them when he hurt his back and then went into COVID protocols. Not his fault, but he's played in two games. His season so far has been a wash. Grade: N/A

Samuel Ariyibi — The young African addition appeared in 4 games, took 2 shots, scored 3 points and didn't grab a rebound before getting hurt. We were expecting more from this 6-foot-8 freshman from Lagos, Nigeria, but he's a project. A redshirt season is certain. Grade: N/A 

Dominiq Penn — The 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman guard has been around for two half seasons and played only at the end of an exhibition game. His progress has been somewhat of a mystery because we never see him. Grade: N/A

Coach Mike Hopkins — He has personality unmatched for any coach likely in all of college basketball. Yet he hasn't been able to make the UW a destination program one might expect for someone who learned from Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for so long. He often seems to be winging it in recruiting and it's still unclear how he let his program nosedive to 5-21 a year ago and survived it. He'll likely continue to enjoy job security based on his likability rather than wins and losses. Jackson Grant is his chance to show what kind of coach he is. Grade: C-

UW Team — Last year's Huskies were a total mess. Selfish players. No coaching direction. Loss after loss after loss. This is a significant improvement. But it won't be an NCAA Tournament team. Grade: C

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