BY Bob Sherwin 06:30PM 11/15/2010

UW has depth to redshirt star frosh

6-7 swingman Desmond Simmons has too many in front of him to get many minutes

Washington small forward Desmond Simmons will redshirt this season in order to strengthen his surgically repaired right knee. (Drew Sellers/Sports Press Northwest)

The Washington Huskies have enough depth and balance this season that the program has the luxury to redshirt freshman forward Desmond Simmons.

The school made it official over the weekend. Simmons, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Vallejo, Ca., will use this year to get stronger, learn the system and improve his skills. Presuming no rash of injuries, he won’t play.

*The move became plain after seeing how little he would be expected to play. There is depth at his position, a small forward/shooting guard where the Huskies don’t lack.

Darnell Gant, the 6-8 junior, will likely start but smaller, quicker players can also fill that spot such as 6-6 Justin Holiday, 6-6 Scott Suggs and 6-5 C. J. Wilcox, who spent last season as a redshirt.

Coach Lorenzo Romar, asked if he would like to redshirt a player every year, said he didn’t know if it could be done on an annual basis but it would be a welcome luxury. Redshirt players fit more smoothly into the system if a program can wait a year.

He said someone such as Wilcox is a much better player and will be a significant contributor this season because he now understands the system.

Desmond Simmons can be the C. J. Wilcox for the 2011-12 season.

Simmons was recruited as one of the top players in the country. He scored more than 2,000 points with more than 1,500 rebounds in high school.

Another freshman who will not redshirt is 6-6 freshman guard Terrence Ross. He’s further along than Simmons and by mid-season might be a vital part of Romar’s rotation.

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Romar said he feels bad that Enes Kanter, a player he tried to recruit last year but was lured away by Kentucky, has been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA.

“He has gone through a lot,” Romar said.

The NCAA ruled that Kanter, a 6-foot-11 center, received benefits above his actual and necessary expenses ($33,000) while playing for a club team in Turkey.

Romar said he knew the shadow over Kanter during the recruiting process and figured he might face some disciplinary issues, such as a suspension.

“But he didn’t have a test score so we couldn’t even get him to visit,” Romar said.

It didn’t seem to matter to Kentucky’s John Calipari. He took him in and had him poised to start for the Wildcats this season. The NCAA altered his plans.

Ironically, one of the players who likely will replace Kanter in that role will be Terrence Jones. Jones had verbally committed to Washington early last month before Calipari’s persuasiveness convinced Jones to change his mind.

After tomorrow night’s game against Eastern Washington, the Huskies will be set eyes on the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving week. Kentucky also is in the field. There is a decent chance they will face each other.

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What came out of Saturday’s 118-64 victory over McNeese State was a mindset for rebounding.

The Huskies, out-rebounded 42-32 by Division II St. Martin’s in an exhibition game 10 days ago, came back with a 69-32 edge against McNeese this past Saturday. Romar put a major emphasis on rebounding last week in practice.

“It was a different mindset,” Romar said. “It was not even at the beginning of the day. After a couple timeouts we talked about it. It clicked for that game.

“We call it gang rebounding. We were content before where a guy would box us out and we would lean on hm. (Saturday) we didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer going to the glass. We were a lot more relentless as a group. We had 30 offensive rebounds. It takes a team effort to do that.”

Among the more remarkable statistics from the game is that 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye had 15 rebounds (and 13 points) in 15 minutes. Against St. Martin’s he had just four rebounds because he fouled out in 11 minutes.

He picked two fouls within his first minute on the floor Saturday but Romar stayed with him.

“We didn’t say anything to him,” Romar said. “When that happens, you’re either looking at the bench or looking under your eyebrows at the bench to see if you are coming out. You’re thinking about that. With him, it didn’t happen.

“To take him out I thought would do more harm than good. Now this would be the second time. Now it become a mental thing. You could see once he got a couple things done, things started happening. There will be times when he will play with a couple fouls, he needed to work through that.”


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