As the University of Washington basketball team embarks on a three-game tour of Arizona, little-used forward J'Raan Brooks should receive more playing time, according to coach Mike Hopkins.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore, a USC transfer originally from Seattle's Garfield High School, made brief appearances in both Husky games on the recent home-stand against Stanford and California, and he earned plaudits.
"He came in against Stanford and he just looked good," Hopkins said of a 79-61 defeat in which most UW players lacked energy. "He looked bouncy, he looked poppy."
Two nights later, Brooks received just eight and a half minutes of time, but he seemed to make the most of them in the Huskies' 62-51 victory.
"J'Raan came in and gave us incredible minutes," Hopkins said. "I thought it was one of the reasons we had the lead at halftime."
Just the same, Brooks has been used in just 13 of 22 games for the UW (5-17 overall, 4-13 Pac-12), starting a lone outing at Oregon State and sitting for long stretches.
The question is why?
Hopkins previously alluded to the big man's defensive shortcomings in the Husky zone for his inactivity.
At the same time, this UW team has suffered mightily all season with its front line and inability to score.
The Huskies receive almost no point production from its two tallest starters, 6-11 sophomore Nate Roberts and 6-9 senior Hameir Wright. Wright averages a mere 5.6 points per game, Roberts 5.2.
Consider last week's game against Stanford, one of the Pac-12's taller teams.
Roberts played 29 minutes and supplied 4 points, while Wright drew nearly 14 minutes and provided 3 points.
The first big man off the bench, 7-4 sophomore Riley Sorn, pulled nearly 5 minutes against the Cardinal and scored 2 points.
Brooks topped them all.
In his 9-minute stint that night, he dropped in all 3 of his shots and finished with 6 points.
The Washington front line also is highly restricted in how these big men pursue their scoring opportunities.
Neither Roberts nor Sorn has attempted a 3-point shot this season.
Wright has let fly with too many, hitting only 20 of 81 treys (24.7 percent).
Brooks, who displays textbook form on his jumper at all times, has connected on 2 of 4 3-pointers for the Huskies this season.
Hopkins should consider using this well-rested big man far more on this Arizona trip, just to see what he can do from the offensive end. Double his normal 10 minutes a game. Accept the defensive lapses.
Brooks twice has scored 8 points in his very limited time on the floor. Imagine what he might do with a chance to break a sweat.
Big-man scoring, for this team, would be a most novel approach
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