By Bill Swartz
Many University of Washington basketball fans lament the talented local players like Michael Porter Jr. who transferred to other programs after the Huskies changed head coaches last winter. Some Seattle area athletes remained true to UW and have a chance to build something special wearing purple and gold.
The Dawgs tip off their 2017-18 season at home Friday night against Belmont University of Nashville, Tennessee. It will be the first real college game for home-grown Jaylen Nowell, eager to play in front of friends and family. The former Garfield High School star felt that thrill in Washington’s exhibition game against St. Martin’s earlier this month, especially when he wound up making the winning basket in the closing seconds.
“It was a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m just ready to go out and compete in front of all of them,” said Nowell.
Like other members of Lorenzo Romar’s prized recruiting class, Nowell thought hard about asking to get out of his UW letter of intent. Then he decided to give the new coach Mike Hopkins and his staff a chance.
“Just being here in the city, definitely wanted to get to know coach Hop, and we all loved him,” Nowell shared. “Who he was as a person. We all felt he was definitely rooting for everybody on the team.”
In high school and junior basketball leagues, Nowell used to go head-to-head against some of his new Husky teammates, including junior guard David Crisp who played at Rainier Beach High School. Growing up in Western Washington, Crisp also knows the joy of playing in front of his supportive fans.
“I know the exact feeling he (Nowell) is talking about. I remember back in my freshman year the first time I stepped out on the court it was surreal,” recalled Crisp. “You dream about stuff like that. Your family gets to come to see your hard work pay off. You get to go to college with a scholarship. It’s definitely huge having your family there.”
Juniors Matisse Thybulle and Dominic Green are Puget Sound area players who stuck with Washington in its coaching transition. Former O’dea High School point guard Michael Carter left the University of San Francisco for a chance to play college ball in his home town.
The fact local guys chose to remain faithful to the Husky program is a huge boost for Mike Hopkins, especially as he recruits the tremendous basketball talent the Seattle-Tacoma area has to offer.
Dawgs on KVI
Washington’s season-opening basketball game can be heard on talk radio KVI, 570 am because the UW at Stanford football game will be on KOMO am 1000/ fm 97.7. New play-by-play voice of the Huskies Tony Castricone is joined by color analyst Jason Hamilton when the Dawgs take on the Belmont Bruins at 7 p.m. in Alaska Airlines Arena.
Belmont is a talented, experienced club picked by some to win the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bruins return several starters from a squad that went 23-7 a year ago, including a deep run in the post-season NIT.