Huskies’ Gaddy is right on track

  • By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
  • Saturday, November 28, 2009 11:08pm
  • SportsSports

SEATTLE _ The big moment came four games into the 2009-10 season, and 32 minutes into a contest that had long since been decided.

The University of Washington men’s basketball team was out on a fast break during the second half of last weekend’s game against San Jose State, when freshman point guard Abdul Gaddy tossed the ball in the air with a soft arc toward the rim. Star senior Quincy Pondexter slammed the ball through the hoop, and months of anticipation were finally satisfied.

For Gaddy, the prized freshman recruit from Tacoma, the path to college stardom is coming more slowly that some fans would have expected. The fans are hoping to see more from the McDonald’s All-American over the next few games, beginning with tonight’s home date against Montana.

But Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar has continually maintained that Gaddy is right on track.

“He’s like a fighter that is feeling his opponent out for the first two rounds,” Romar said in the days leading up to that Nov. 20 game against SJSU. “That’s just been his approach.”

The prized catch of UW’s 2009 freshman class, Gaddy saw the most meaningful action of his college career while playing 25 minutes as starter Venoy Overton sat much of the SJSU game with foul trouble. Gaddy scored just four points, but he had a team-high seven assists and showed a couple flashes of the big-time talent that had Pac-10 teams battling for his services out of high school.

“I thought he was stellar in running the team against the zone,” Romar said afterward. “He had seven assists and no turnovers, and that’s what you look for.”

Gaddy was one of the nation’s top recruits while playing at Bellarmine High School, first committing to Arizona before backing out when coach Lute Olson retired. While he averaged 25.3 points per game as a high school senior, scoring is not Gaddy’s primary game. He had to pick up the slack after Bellarmine teammate and fellow McDonald’s All-American Avery Bradley transferred before last season, and now Gaddy is back in a more comfortable role as the distributor.

Understated in both personality and game, Gaddy prefers to leave the highlights to others while managing the game when he’s on the floor.

“My role is to run the team as a point guard,” he said after last weekend’s win. “Not so much as a captain, but in terms of running the team on the floor, being a coach on the floor. I need to get guys into their spots and be vocal.”

While averaging 6.5 points, 3.5 assists and 21.7 minutes per game this season, Gaddy has not made the splash that fellow freshmen like Bradley (at Texas), John Wall (at Kentucky) and Xavier Henry (at Kansas) have. But he’s not surprised by his slow start to his college career.

“I knew that I would slowly come up,” Gaddy said. “I knew I had to learn the system first, and get the feel of the game. And then once I’ve got the feel of the game, I’ll just blow up from there.”

Romar warned onlookers early in the season that the freshman phenom might not be an immediate star, but that he had all the qualities to blossom at his own pace.

“When you watch him and the way we coach him,” Romar said before the season opener, “you would never think he was the guy with all the notoriety coming in because he’s willing to do whatever you ask.”

In addition to the jump in level, Gaddy is adjusting to a change in role this season. Not since his freshman year at Bellarmine High School had he come off the bench, yet that’s what Gaddy is doing while playing behind Overton and Isaiah Thomas this season.

“That comes with the territory,” he said with a shrug.

At some point — perhaps this season, but maybe later in his career — Gaddy will earn his spot as a starter for the Huskies. Until then, he’ll build off of his 25-minute performance and hope that the playing time keeps coming as the season wears on.

“I have a lot more confidence,” he said after the San Jose State game. “I feel like I belong out there, and I believe I’m a key part of helping the team win.”

Little by little, Gaddy has been proving himself to be just that.

His jump from high school to college might not have made the expected splash, but he seems to be getting used to the water.

“I’m not really surprised,” Thomas said when asked about Gaddy’s last game. “I just keep telling him to be more aggressive.”


Montana (5-1) is coming off of an upset of Pac-10 contender Oregon. The Grizzlies upset the Ducks 68-55 in their last game six days ago. … Romar is looking for his 150th win as UW coach tonight. He is 149-81 in seven-plus seasons as head coach of the Huskies.

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