The Huskies will lose two of their top players going into 2020. Who needs to step up to bring this team back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season?
After originally canceling all athletic activities in 2020, the Pac-12 conference has now changed its course and the basketball season is scheduled to start just two weeks after the original date. The Huskies will be playing this Wednesday, Nov. 25 against Portland State for their opening contest.
With how the conference football season has gone thus far — with four games canceled in a span of two weeks — I would expect the basketball season to go about the same, with games having to be moved around, canceled and rescheduled. However, I am going to pretend as if this will be a normal season and give my thoughts on where this team stands and what I am looking forward to this season.
The Huskies lost two impact players to the NBA draft, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Mcdaniels. Since they were the top two scorers on the team with an averaged combined 30 points per game, their biggest task will be replacing the offensive output of those two.
The obvious answer to who should be next to lead the offensive attack would have been senior guard Nahziah Carter, however, his status remains uncertain after being indefinitely suspended from all team related activities for violating team rules. This will be a huge loss if he is unavailable for a team that is desperate for scoring options.
However, if this is the case, there are a few breakout candidates that could step up for the Huskies. One is senior guard Quade Green. Green is a transfer from Kentucky that showed audiences why he was a five star recruit coming out of high school last year. But, before it was announced, he was academically ineligible and missed the second half of the season. He averaged 11.6 points along with 5.3 assists per game and also shot 44% on three point field goals.
After losing Green, the team almost seemed completely lost for the remainder of the season, poorly finishing with a 4-14 in their last 18 games that concluded with a first round exit in the Pac-12 tournament.
Two more returning names to watch out for are sophomores Marcus Tsohonis and RaeQuan Battle. Both were originally planned to be redshirted for the season but injuries and suspensions threw them into battle earlier than expected.
Tsohonis gained valuable experience as the starting point guard in the final stretch last season filling in for Green, and I really liked what I saw. In his limited action, he averaged seven points per game and also shot 41% from behind the arc. He could be a huge asset coming off the bench.
Battle on the other hand is a pure scorer and will most likely serve as the sixth man coming off the bench. While he needs to put more work in regarding his game, Battle is known for his shooting, which I expect to see improved for 2020. With the potential loss of Carter, it is important for him to step up and bring a spark to the offensive line.
The team also welcomes four transfers who will most likely all be eligible to play in 2020. Someone I am most excited about is combo guard Erik Stevenson. Stevenson is a local product out of Timberline high school but spent his first two seasons of college at Wichita State, where he was the Shocker’s second leading scorer. He has the potential to be a pure scorer and lead the Husky offense while also bringing valuable length in the zone defense UW is known for.
I don’t see this team competing for a conference championship but there is no reason they cannot be in the top half of the conference to earn an at-large birth to the NCAA tournament. The key will be the hopeful return of Carter as well as seniors Quade Green and Hamier Wright playing up to their potential in their final year in Seattle.
The conference overall is loaded with talent and extremely balanced outside of the top three in Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA. My best guess would be a sixth place finish if Carter can play and we see the emergence of the younger players along with the transfers. Now let’s all pray the season goes smoothly with limited cancellations.