Huskies wondering why they can't reel in 5-star basketball recruits
The loss of several top-tier recruits has raised questions about Washington's ability to compete.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Washington's inability to land five-star recruits has become one of the underlying story lines since Terrence Jones, an All-American forward at Portland's Jefferson High School, spurned the Huskies and picked Kentucky on Wednesday.
There are questions about UW's ability to compete with college basketball's powerhouse programs and secure top-tier recruits.
And here's the thing: Coach Lorenzo Romar is asking the same questions.
"We've been going after them," he said. "In terms of getting them ...
"Two of the recruits we got this year, we wouldn't have landed if we had not done well this year. I say that to say we just have to continue working hard in putting a team out there that's going to be successful, and I think that thing takes care of itself over a period of time."
Washington appeared ready to reap the benefits from a two-year run when it won the Pac-10 tournament title and regular-season conference crown and advanced twice to the NCAA tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance last season.
The Huskies, however, were runners-up in the recruiting battles for Kentwood High star big man Joshua Smith, who picked UCLA, and Turkish standout Enes Kanter and Jones, who chose Kentucky.
The quartet of Smith, Kanter, Jones and Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward from Salesian High in Richmond, Calif., would have been a top-five class nationally, said Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels.
"With those four guys, you're talking about two five-star prospects, two in the top 10 and a pair of four-star prospects," Daniels said. "That would have been a heckuva class.
"That would have been right up there in the top five if not top overall. That would have easily been one of the top classes in the country. I'm not saying it would have been No. 1, but it would be right up there in the discussion."
Unfortunately for the Huskies, losing Smith, Kanter and Jones has overshadowed Washington's three newcomers: junior-college transfer Aziz N'Diaye, Portland swingman Terrence Ross and Simmons.
"I love this class," Romar said. "You miss out on the last one and I hope it doesn't take away from what has already taken place."
Romar doesn't lament the recruits he's lost because he's excited about the incoming freshmen who could be a better fit for his up-tempo system.
"We've got a 7-footer that's agile, that can run the floor, that's aggressive and mean and has the ability to control the paint in Aziz N'Diaye," Romar said. "We've got a dynamic shooter and athlete in Terrence Ross who wants to be here ... and he's probably even better than what his ranking is.
"And then Desmond Simmons, a guy whose ego is tied into winning and doing things right. When you've got three guys coming in with a lot of guys who are already coming back, you can't help but to be excited with what we have."
A year ago this month, Simmons committed to Washington and signed a national letter of intent in November a couple of weeks before Kanter committed to the Huskies.
In February, Kanter reopened his recruitment and signed with UK in April on the same day UW landed N'Diaye from the College of Southern Idaho.
At an April 30 news conference, Ross announced he signed with the Huskies and Jones committed to UW before reversing his decision.
Simmons, who has watched Washington's recruiting saga unfold from afar over the past seven months, described it as "a whole lot of drama."
"Everybody has their thing and how they want to handle recruiting and they've got to do what's best for them," Simmons said. "For me it was more of I felt like I found a school that had all of the qualities that I was looking for and I didn't see any point in trying to prolong the situation.
"Since I was young it was my goal to get a scholarship to play Division I basketball. I felt like I found that school and I didn't want to linger around. I felt like once I found that school, I wanted to seal the deal."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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