Meet the Guy Who Could be the Most Important Player for UW Basketball

The Huskies need at least one big man to step up and provide a zone and scoring presence. Here's the leading candidate.

Quade Green, should the junior point guard live up to his newfound vow of accountability, will be the University of Washington's best basketball player this season. 

Providing he can obtain a transfer waiver, former Wichita State shooting guard Erik Stevenson could be the Huskies' leading scorer.

Yet the UW's most important player this season?

J'Raan Brooks.

The Huskies urgently need a big man to step up when college basketball commences play in a month or be prepared to struggle some.

They're counting on the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Brooks, a USC transfer and a Seattle native, to be that guy.

Last season, the Huskies had an overabundance of inside riches on the roster — at least on paper — but one-and-done freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels now await the NBA draft and 7-footer Bryan Penn-Johnson plays for LSU.

Brooks carries a lot of responsibility. 

On the UW roster, it's just him and a slightly overweight 6-10, 265-pound sophomore Nate Roberts and towering yet unheralded 7-4, 255-pound walk-on Riley Sorn to mix it up inside. That leaves Hameir Wright, a  6-9, 220-pound senior, as more of a wing player.

"J'Raan Brooks has been improving daily," UW coach Mike Hopkins said. "He's improved his shot. He's better defensively in what we do. J'Raan has been a scorer his whole life and he gives us another player."

While he's converting his players into a guard-oriented team, Hopkins still must have someone with size for his zone and to provide a scoring threat.

Brooks, with a proven 3-point range stroke, might be better around the perimeter than Stewart and McDaniels were this past season.

He turns to the Huskies after bypassing them coming out of Seattle's Garfield High School for USC.

"I didn't stay because I honestly wanted to get out and try something new," said Brooks, who speaks in a thoughtful way with a deep voice. 

He agreed to go to USC in agreement with fellow Seattleite Kevin Porter and Elijah Weaver, both 6-4 guards. None of them play for the Trojans now. Porter is in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Weaver has turned up in Ohio as well, transferring to Dayton. 

Brooks joins an up-tempo offense that will run the floor rather than set up and play off the pivot as the Huskies did with Stewart. He feels like he's a good fit for this.

"I'm glad we're doing that, playing a lot faster," Brooks said. "Obviously coming from Garfield, we were a fast team. I'm excited for the new style of play."

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