Huskies' Terrence Ross is even better than he shows
The sophomore guard, who has shown his ability in flashes throughout his 1½ seasons of college basketball, offered his longest glimpse Sunday night. Ross is still growing into his immense talent, though.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Terrence Ross is so talented that his teammates can't talk about his skills without laughing. Yes, he's so good it's funny.
The humor comes from the unimaginable truth that even though our jaws descend every time Ross shows the tip of his iceberg game, he's even better in larger doses. If only you could see him in practice or pickup games, the Washington basketball players say. That's when the really crazy stuff happens.
Crazier than scoring 26 points in the second half against Washington State and finishing with a career-high 30 points and 14 rebounds? Crazier than lifting the Huskies from confused to electrifying in the most dazzling 12 minutes of basketball we've seen from Washington this season? Crazier than an alley-oop dunk over Marcus Capers and a dancing, step-back three-pointer with a hand in his face?
"It's shocking to y'all, but in practice, he does that all the time," guard Tony Wroten Jr. said.
"Any game, it can happen," guard Abdul Gaddy said.
Ross, who has shown his ability in flashes throughout his 1 ½ seasons of college basketball, offered his longest glimpse Sunday. His offensive burst, along with coach Lorenzo Romar's eruption after a debatable foul call on Ross, spurred the Huskies to a 75-65 comeback victory over the rival Cougars at Edmundson Pavilion.
The performance was a microcosm of Ross' attempt to evolve from a highlight reel to a consistent force. He missed eight of his first nine shots, four of his first five three-pointers and three of his first four free throws, entering halftime with an ugly offensive stat line. But his coaches kept telling him to stay aggressive.
With C.J. Wilcox, the team's best perimeter shooter, out with a stress fracture in his hip, the Huskies needed more from Ross. He has been good this season — averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds entering this game — but because he is receiving buzz as a potential NBA lottery pick, the expectation is excellence. Ross is still growing into his immense talent, though. Part of that involves knowing when to force the issue and when to let the game come to him. At times this season, he has erred by being too laid back.
He remained aggressive on this night. In the second half, he scored 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting (8 of 10 before missing two at the end), including 5 of 7 three-pointers. He scored the Huskies' first 10 points out of halftime as they struggled to stay in the game while figuring out WSU's zone defense.
Then, after Ross was called for an offensive foul with 12:16 remaining, Romar nearly ripped off his pinstriped suit coat and received a technical foul. After Faisal Aden made two free throws, the Huskies went on a 15-2 run that ballooned to 26-6. A 47-37 deficit became a 63-53 lead. It's arguable whether it was the Huskies' best stretch of basketball of the year, but without question, it brought an intensity — from the team and in the crowd — that we haven't seen this season. Ross had eight points during that stretch.
"He's as streaky a player as I've seen," Romar said of Ross. "When it starts to go for him, he's difficult to guard."
Romar joked that Ross sometimes takes shots that should come with a disclaimer for kids: "Watch that, but don't try to do what he just did."
The sophomore guard has improved greatly from his freshman season, when he was fighting for minutes off the bench and often tried to do too much. He understands the Huskies' offensive and defensive systems better now, so he plays with more poise. Next, he must learn to attack the basket more and figure out how to be a dominant scorer even while playing unselfishly.
Ross, who is mellow and doesn't have a superstar ego, never has been asked to be the man. He spent a good chunk of his high-school career complementing Kentucky forward Terrence Jones at Jefferson High School in Portland. But Ross' talent suggests he's too good to play Robin. He can be Batman if he wants it.
"Any moment, I could just explode," Ross said.
Oh, don't we know.
Actually, we don't really know. But his teammates have seen the full picture. If they weren't laughing so hard, they'd describe it in detail.
"He's had many amazing plays this season," Gaddy said, shaking his head. "He's a freak athlete."
And his talent is measured in giggles.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @Jerry_Brewer.
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