In those first glorious seconds after Washington's very unlikely comeback win over Illinois last Saturday, Brandon Roy didn't run to the nearest camera. He didn't jump on the scorer's table and scream into the din. He didn't puff out his chest and pop out his uniform.
After Dee Brown missed his long game-tying jumper, Roy immediately turned toward the Illinois bench. He shook hands with coach Bruce Weber. He hugged center James Augustine and Brown.
"I mean, I'm a fan of those guys from Illinois," Roy said before the team left Tuesday for Washington, D.C., and a date with Connecticut in the Sweet 16 on Friday. "I know it's weird to say it, but I've been watching them on TV and I'm a fan of what they've done.
"Just to play against a great coach like that and against great players like that, I don't ever want to gloat in their faces. I just want to show them respect."
Roy, not J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison, is the most complete player in college basketball. His game is grown up. He makes great decisions. He scores, passes, rebounds and defends.
He has a Kobe Bryant-like knack for dribbling left-right, left-right, getting in a rhythm before he explodes to the basket. He is as cool as Kasey Kahne in traffic and capable of carrying his team through the heat of March. We shouldn't focus on the future, but Roy certainly will be a top-five NBA pick.
But when he plays basketball, he doesn't talk smack on the floor. Doesn't yell at his teammates. He plays with an old-school sensibility, an old-school respect for the game.
"I don't really think talking trash is needed," he said. "I'm a competitor, but talking trash doesn't really decide games. I think it's how you perform. I'm one of those players that doesn't need to talk trash to motivate me. My motivation is, 'When the ball goes up, I want to be better than you.' I just want to play and prove who's the better player, not the better trash-talker."
Roy is a student of the game and a fan of the game. He watches more college basketball than Dick Vitale. He probably can name the starting lineup for every Big East team.
There was a moment before last year's NCAA tournament game against Louisville when he was standing in the tunnel waiting to go on the floor and he spotted Texas Tech coach Bob Knight. Quickly, Roy ran up to Knight and shook his hand.
"I wish I had players like you," Knight told him.
"He definitely could talk trash, but he's one of those guys, he's real humble," senior forward Mike Jensen said. "He just lets his game speak for itself, and it's talking pretty loud right now.
"He doesn't have that emotion. He doesn't necessarily show that fire that Morrison does. But he plays with every bit as much intensity. I think that his game just shows for itself."
Roy is a leader. He is an adult.
After freshman Justin Dentmon made the mistake that cost Washington a win in Stanford, Dentmon said he didn't want to talk to the media, said he just wanted to get on the bus.
But Roy explained to him the importance of standing up to his mistakes. Dentmon talked.
Roy understands humility. Earlier this year, he had a chance at a triple-double against Oregon State. But Washington was comfortably ahead and, coach Lorenzo Romar told Roy he wasn't going back in the game. Some players would have sulked. Roy was happy for the win and the road sweep of the Oregon schools.
"You look at a player with this much ability and this is the first year he has averaged more than 13 points per game," Romar said. "And the reason is, because we have a team concept and he was content with being part of a team and helping others. That's how he is. He thinks of others, a lot."
Barring an upset win Friday, this will be the final weekend of Roy's college basketball career. He will be remembered and appreciated, with Nate Robinson, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons and Bobby Jones, for turning around a moribund program.
And, as much as anybody who ever played for Washington, he will be missed — for his jumper, his smarts, his defense and, most of all, his dignity.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com.