To lighten the mood of Husky fans who, the more I think of it, got jobbed today I decided to reflect upon the great players that have come through UW under head coach Lorenzo Romar. Here is the second edition of The Top 11, which I can again best describe as “ambiguous sports rankings with considerable bias.” This list was harder than I thought it was going to be, as after the obvious choices it gets hard to choose from. I also made the distinction that the players have to have already cemented their legacy as Huskies. So no Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, Aziz N’Diaye, Darnell Gant, or Brendan Sherrer on this list because they got some business to attend to. Also, my apologies to the family and friends of Zane Potter, but he also missed the cut. Here we go.
11. Ryan Appleby
Eating good in the neighborhood! Easily one of my favorite calls of Bob Rondeau, which he did after every made Appleby three. And there were a lot of them. Appleby sunk 231 treys
in his three year career at Washington, which makes him the all-time leader in the category. He has three of the top 5 most prolific three point shooting seasons in UW history. That’s pretty nuts for a guy who had the athletic ability of most of the fans who watched him. He was deadly from three throughout his career and although he rarely made a shot inside the arc, his work outside of it puts him in the Top 11. Appleby also had one of the biggest middle finger performances of all time. After getting punched in the face by Aaron Brooks of Oregon in the ’06 Pac Ten Tourney, Appleby met up with Brooks at Oregon in February of 2007. Brooks was suspended for the first game in Seattle that season, but was allowed to play in the game in Eugene. And this transpired.
I absolutely support this gesture, for a few reasons. First, Oregon sucks. And second, you don’t owe anybody anything after they disrespect you. UW lost that game, but Appleby hit five threes in the first half. Forget that Brooks had 30 that game, but remember that Appleby was an all-time great at UW.
10. Tre Simmons
The second biggest sharpshooter at UW behind Appleby gets the nod over him for being a part of the #1 seeded Husky team in 2005 that made it to the Sweet-16. Simmons averaged a cool 16 ppg on that ’05 team while shooting .417 from three. I’ve always liked the knock down shooter role, and Simmons played that perfectly. Three times in that epic 2005 run did he hit six treys in a game. I used to watch the 2005 team’s games in my room and sit on my bed and pretend to be Tre Simmons shooting a mini-ball into a UW door-hoop that my dad made me. Safe to say I could have used some more practice on a real hoop because my shot looks more like Russell Simmons than Tre Simmons these days. Plus the guy’s name was Tre and he hit threes like nobody’s business. That is too perfect. Simmons was also a local product, coming to UW after a JUCO stint but not before playing at Garfield HS with a few more members of this countdown…
9. Matthew Bryan-Amaning
I don’t think there was ever a more unappreciated player at UW than MBA. How good does 15 points a game and 8 rebounds a game sound on this current UW team sound? That is
what MBA put up his senior year, yet was constantly maligned for being inconsistent. Granted he tended to display the post footwork of a giraffe on ice skates, he was a perfect fit for Romar’s offense as an athletic big man who could run the floor and play defense. Amaning won the conference’s Most Improved Player award in 2011 as well as setting the school’s single game blocks record with seven against Arizona. He was an absolute beast at times and could throw it down with the best of them. MBA worked hard and got better every year he was at UW and it showed in his senior year. Maybe not the most reliable player of all-time, but a player that every team wishes they could have.
8. Justin Dentmon
Dentmon had a very up and down career with the Dawgs, being the starting point guard as a Freshman on the 2006 team that made it to the Sweet-16 gave him a lot of hype as a potential star at UW as he set freshman records for assists and steals that season. Dentmon never really realized that potential until his senior season. He suffered through a Husky fanbase that was impatient with him after his breakout freshman season, one that had him passing the ball off to Brandon Roy, which certainly helped his transition to college. JD rode the bench often during his sophomore and junior seasons, struggling to fill the role as lead guard. That all changed his senior year when Isaiah Thomas came in as a freshman, and from there Dentmon blossomed as a spot up shooter and scorer. He was able to play off of Thomas and reveled in the role, scoring very prolifically from three and also from the free throw stripe. Dentmon was in the running for Pac-10 player of the year that season before losing to James Harden of ASU. He did end up as 1st Team All-Pac 10, helping lead the Dawgs to an outright Pac-10 championship. Dentmon currently ranks 15th all time in points, 5th in made three pointers, 4th in assists, and 2nd in steals.
7. Bobby Jones
The ultimate swingman. Bobby Jones was a four year starter for UW, as well as Lorenzo Romar’s first ever signee. Jones went to Dominguez High School in Compton, California, which is Romar’s hometown. Indicative of the pipeline to California that Romar has used so well in his tenure here, Jones embodied the term hustle. An athlete who was capable of creating his own shot and getting to the basket, Jones sat back and let more talented players create while he did the dirty work. Jones was an integral part of UW’s rise as an elite program out west, being a starter on each of the first three tournament appearances under Lorenzo Romar. Jones really could do it all, he ranks 6th all time in steals at UW, led the team in rebounding and three point percentage (.508) in ’05, and averaged double figures for three straight seasons. Jones is an all-time favorite of mine and will be continue to be one of the models for the ‘Perfect Romar Player’.
6. Nate Robinson
The Human Highlight reel. No one was more fun to watch on a fast break than Nate Robinson. Probably one of the most athletically gifted people on the planet, Nate was a
staple for the turnaround of UW basketball. A dynamo, a spark plug, a scorer, a distributor, and an all around baller, Nate lit up the court for the three years he was here. He ranks 23rd all-time in scoring and would have been much higher had he not left for the NBA after his junior year after leading the Dawgs in scoring for each of his three years here. He was a player you couldn’t take your eyes off of, because you knew a dunk was always possible. And when it did, oh my God was it special. Nate could do more than bang out, ranking fifth all time in steals, tenth in assists, seventh in made threes, and first in highlights. Nate Rob was the catalyst for the turnaround of the program that happened midway through the 2003-4 season when the team got out of an 0-5 conference start to make it to the NCAA tournament. He has also found huge success as a fan favorite and more than serviceable NBA point guard. But I remember his work on the gridiron just as much as the hardwood, as his interception in the 2002 Apple Cup to give the Huskies a chance was an all-time great play. And of course, he did this too.
5. Will Conroy
#5 gets #5, and he deserves it. Conroy was the best pure point guard to ever play at Washington. A bulldog, a warrior, a leader, a distributor, and the engine behind the high flying offense of Washington’s golden year in 2005. He averaged 6.4 assists for the #1 seeded Huskies, as well as near double digit scoring. He was the steadying influence on a team full of big personalities. Plus he looked so damn good in those old UW jerseys. Bring the gold numbers back, Romar. They looked so good. Anyways, Conroy was the go behind that offense, and will continue to be a Seattle icon. He has bounced around the league, having claimed several 10 day contracts with teams but not ever getting a full crack at it. Regardless, I see Will as the face of Lorenzo Romar’s best team and for that he gets this spot.
4. Quincy Pondexter
QPon had quite possibly the best senior season in UW history. A magnificent scorer from just about everywhere, he comes in 3rd all time in scoring at Washington. He was robbed of the Pac-10 Player of the Year award his senior year, as he averaged 19.3 ppg with seventeen 20 point games, to go along with 7.4 rebounds and a stunning five Pac-10 Player of the Week awards. He is perhaps best known for his game winning drive to the basket against Marquette in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament in San Jose, but he had a career full of ups and downs. He came in as a 5-star recruit from San Joaquin Memorial in 2006 and as a compliment to other highly touted freshman Spencer Hawes. Hawes left after one year, but Pondexter didn’t quite show enough ability to do the same. And in the coming years he struggled mightily at times. He looked lost on offense, a liability on defense, and was relegated to bench action for much of his sophomore and junior seasons. But halfway through his junior season, Pondexter became an offensive weapon. Deadly from about 18 feet, he became a great compliment to Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Jon Brockman on that team. He lead the team in scoring in their first round win over Mississippi State and began to show flashes of ability to dominate. He did just that in his senior campaign, one that was filled with great performances and fun games. I highly encourage you watch at least some of the below video, as this team was fire in 2009.
3. Jon Brockman
I’ve been lucky enough to have dinner in the same restaurant as the Brockness monster. It was a dinner with my parents and grandparents at Mukilteo Ivar’s a few years back, and Brockman was there with family and friends. My grandpa, upon being informed that Brockman was there, was enamored with the fact of being that close to a celebrity. He saw Brockman get up and go to the bathroom, and immediately left his seat to go follow him. Whilst in the bathroom, Papa told Brockman something along the lines of, “You’re really great. You remind me of Larry Bird.” Absolutely phenomenal. Brockman’s game should remind nobody of Larry Bird, as he was more Larry the Cable Guy in style and finesse.
Brockman is UW’s all-time leading rebounder and second leading scorer of all-time. He was not the most athletic guy by any stretch, but out worked everyone to get boards and get buckets. Brockman was a guy that any team in the nation could have used. He had offers from Duke and UCLA before choosing the Huskies to be a hometown hero. He did just that. From Snohomish, Washington, the Brockness Monster has carved out a niche as one of the most well-liked UW stars of all-time. Currently with the Milwaukee Bucks, he is doing the same thing. While not putting up huge numbers or playing valuable minutes, he is nothing short of a cult hero. See below.
2. Isaiah Thomas
I had a really tough time deciding between Brockman and Isaiah Thomas for this spot. I was convinced by one Jack Seidl that what puts IT here is his defining moment in a UW uniform. He has the “Cold Blooded” play that everyone can remember, whereas Brockman just doesn’t, despite getting the advantage for the fact that he played four years at UW to Thomas’ three. Thomas ended his career sooner than most would have wished, but his legacy is still truly great.
Thomas, had he played this season, would undoubtedly have been the all-time scoring leader as well as the all-time leading assist man at UW. What would have been would have been incredible, but nobody quite had the spark that Thomas did. His 27 point, 13 assist performance at California last season ranks as my favorite performance of all-time to watch at UW. He was masterful last season once Abdul Gaddy went down for the season with a knee injury. He flashed an ability as a true point guard that has carried over to his surprising success with the Kings this season (averaging 9 points and 3 assists a game) and has become their starting point guard. Thomas broke out as a true freshman when he served as the team’s leading scorer, and was an explosive scorer throughout his career. Thomas stands at just 5’9″, but his size was never an issue as he consistently guarded bigger players with ease. If you ever watched an FSN telecast of a UW game, you probably heard how Thomas got his name over 50 times, but I would take it thirty more times to have IT playing in a UW uniform this season. Go get it big guy.
1. Brandon Roy
The only sure thing on this list. Brandon Roy was hands-down the best player that Romar has ever had. An All-American his senior year, averaging 20.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and a block a game, Roy was absolutely stellar. He could score at will throughout his career, but he played off of his star teammates until his senior year, when he absolutely took off. Roy battled injuries most of his first three years, but fought through all of them to be a dominant player in the Pac-10’s golden era. He carried the team in 2005-2006 to a Sweet-16. He had to. The team was extremely thin and he ate up some serious minutes that season. And they could have gone farther. I need not remind you all of the UConn game that season, which for my generation comes as the most crushing loss we can remember, rivaled only by the “12 men on the field” football game at Ann Arbor, Michigan in the Rick Neuheisel era. Damn you Mike Jensen. But that was a poor way for Roy’s career to end, especially considering that team would most likely have made a final four appearance as UConn lost to George Mason in the very next game.
I saw Roy’s first career game in the NBA, at KeyArena. I could say definitively after that game that Roy was going to be a star. And he was until he had to retire due to chronic knee injuries before this season. Roy was absolutely phenomenal wherever he went, and is forever a cult hero in Seattle and in Portland. Long live B-Roy.