By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — An hour or so before Saturday’s afternoon tip-off, the University of Washington men’s basketball team found out it would be without one of its tallest players.
Not just for Saturday. For the rest of this season.
During an opening-round game of the World Vision Classic, 6-foot-10 freshman Jernard Jarreau told UW coach Lorenzo Romar that he planned to redshirt. Romar had brought the subject up to Jarreau after Tuesday’s exhibition game against Seattle Pacific University, a game that saw the freshman from New Orleans go 0-for-2 from the floor, with two rebounds and three fouls, in 11 minutes of action.
After the Huskies beat Georgia State in the second of two basketball games played Saturday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Jarreau said he was humbled by the prospect of redshirting but that he knew it would be the right decision.
“Long down the line, I won’t say I regret this decision,” Jarreau said. “I think it will help me down the line.”
Jarreau had a few days to ponder the decision after Romar suggested the redshirt possibility following the SPU exhibition. If Jarreau had played in Saturday afternoon’s opener, the possibility of a redshirt would be lost.
“He understands that he has some talent,” said Romar, who has recently redshirted current contributors C.J. Wilcox, Darnell Gant and Desmond Simmons to give them an extra year of eligibility. “Not unlike C.J. and Desmond and Darnell, he just knows he wants to get stronger, learn the system and then come out here with a fresh start.”
Jarreau’s main focus during his redshirt year will be to add strength. The wiry freshman, who is listed at 195 pounds, said he has already added about 15 pounds to his frame but that he needs to continue bulking up.
Romar said the decision probably wouldn’t affect the success of this year’s team, even though the Huskies are limited in terms of height in the paint.
“I don’t know how much it hurts our depth,” the UW coach said. “… I think it is a good move for him because he doesn’t have to go through this year with the ups and downs, emotionally, of playing, not playing.”
Jarreau said patience will be the key to this season, but he’s willing to sit if it helps him in the long run.
“I’m just trying to reach my potential, and next year I think I’ll be ready to go,” he said.
Said Romar: “He will be a lot better player this time next year and still be a freshman.”