Although he still has holes in his game, Washington’s freshman star is quickly developing into an elite Pac-12 player.
With 24 points (plus six assists and four rebounds) in Washington’s 91-83 not-so-easy victory over Seattle U. Tuesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena, Husky freshman Tony Wroten hiked his season scoring average to 17.0. That figure not only leads Washington, but ranks second in the Pac-12, trailing only Jared Cunningham of Oregon State (17.6).
Wroten has scored 10 or more points in 14 of Washington’s 16 games and 20 or more in six, including 27 against UC Santa Barbara Dec. 16 that tied a UW freshman record held by Andra Griffin (1978), current UW assistant Paul Fortier (1983), Mark Sanford (1995) and Isaiah Thomas (2008).
Wroten’s scoring uptick — 20 or more points in six of his past eight contests — coincides with his insertion into the starting lineup three weeks ago (20.2 average since that happened).
As a result of his increased playing time, Wroten is threatening the UW freshman record for points in a season, among other statistical intrigues. Thomas scored 541 in 35 games and averaged 15.5 ppg in 2008-09. Wroten has 272 in 16 contests, making his 17-point average the highest by a freshman in UW history.
Wroten is further threatening to become the first UW player to lead the conference in scoring since Louie Nelson averaged 23.0 under Marv Harshman in 1972-73, and is on the verge of cracking the conference’s top-10 list of freshman scorers:
|2002-03||Ike Diogu||Arizona St.||19.0|
|2007-08||James Harden||Arizona St.||17.8|
Wroten still has a few holes in his game (going to the hoop is not one of them), particularly at the foul line, where he is a 53.8 percent shooter — especially bad because Wroten has gone to the line 119 times, a whopping 76 more times than any other Husky.
But Wroten has such upside (he is already a Bob Cousy Award nominee) — his seven steals against Colorado Jan. 5 are tied for the second-most in school history (2.0 average ranks T3 in the Pac-12) — and is making such an impact that he also has a chance to become the first Washington player selected first-team all-conference as a freshman.
As to that impact: When Wroten scored 23 vs. Duke, 27 vs. San Jose State and 23 vs. South Dakota State between Dec. 10-18, he became the first UW freshman with three consecutive 20-point games since center Spencer Hawes had four in a row in 2008.
When Wroten averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week two weeks ago, he became the first UW freshman since Hawes in 2006 to earn that accolade.
Since freshmen became eligible for all-conference consideration in 1972-73, only 14 first-year players have landed on the first team, most recently forward Derrick Williams of Arizona for the 2009-10 season.
Over the same span, just two Washington yearlings have received any all-league consideration, none on the first team. Thomas made second All-Pac-10 in 2009, while Hawes was honorable mention in his only season at the school (2006-07).
Finally, since 1970, Washington has produced only four players who averaged 20 or more points per game — George Irvine (20.0) in 1970, Steve Hawes in 1971 (21.8) and 1972 (21.7), Nelson in 1973 (23.0) and Brandon Roy (20.2) in his 2006 first-team All-America season.
Now that he’s a starter, Wroten could become the fifth.