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Originally published April 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 26, 2007 at 9:01 PM

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Husky Men's Basketball | Overton signs his UW letter of intent

A day after losing a player, the Washington men's basketball team officially gained another. While the request of swingman Phil Nelson to...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A day after losing a player, the Washington men's basketball team officially gained another.

While the request of swingman Phil Nelson to transfer was being processed, the Huskies received a signed letter of intent from Franklin guard Venoy Overton, who becomes the fourth member of the class of 2007.

The 6-foot Overton averaged 21.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.0 steals in leading Franklin to a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament last month. He is expected to contend for immediate playing time in UW's backcourt, which was marked by some inconsistent play this past season.

"He has great quickness and athleticism, and he can really push the basketball up the floor and he does a good job of defending people with the ball," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. "But I think as good as he is in all of those areas, he's even better at winning. I think that's his best skill. He really helps you win games."

Romar said he was impressed with how Overton reacted when he fouled out of Franklin's semifinal loss to Ferris.

"He could have been putting his jersey over his head and just sitting there," Romar said. "But he was cheering his team on, knowing they weren't going to win, and stayed in the game, and then he huddled his team up and said there was nothing to be ashamed of and we've got another game to win if we want to go out on top. That's great. That's something that's hard to coach."

Franklin won that consolation game.

Romar also compared Overton's fiery attitude to that of former Huskies Nate Robinson and Will Conroy, saying "he brings an attitude, but in a good way that helps you win games."

Overton joins three players who signed in November — forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Darnell Gant and swingman Justin Holiday — in UW's Class of 2007.

Nelson, meanwhile, spent his first day as a publicly acknowledged former member of the team the same way he had spent many of his days as a Husky — working out with the rest of the other players in an informal pickup game.

In brief comments as he headed into the gym, Nelson confirmed what Romar had said the day before, that he was simply looking for a place where he felt he would fit in a little better. Nelson, a 6-7 swingman from Keizer, Ore., said he thinks he will find that at Portland State, where he plans to play next, but not before finishing out the quarter at UW.

"I felt like it was a better situation," said Nelson, who averaged 4.7 points a game this year and started nine games out of 31 appearances for UW this season. "I don't know if I fit in here."

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Asked if playing time was the major issue, Nelson said "it was just [the] overall [situation]."

Team captain Jon Brockman said Nelson had told the other players about a week ago of his decision.

"It's a tough thing because he fits in socially with the team and he's a good friend and a good teammate," Brockman said. "I guess it just wasn't the right fit."

With Nelson's departure freeing up a scholarship, the Huskies have jumped in the running for Ty Abbott, a 6-3 guard from Desert Vista High in Phoenix. Abbott had signed with New Mexico but was released from his letter when coach Ritchie McKay was fired.

He is expected to take a trip to UW next weekend but also has trips scheduled to Arizona State and Washington State, marking a rare time that the Cougars and Huskies could be competing for the same player.

Court named for Harshman

The school announced Thursday that the north practice court in Edmundson Pavilion will be renamed after former coach Marv Harshman. "Marv Harshman Court" will be officially dedicated in a formal ceremony in the fall.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blog on UW basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

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