Washington’s freshman star will have a seat on the bench of a good Grizzlies team as he works on his offensive game.
A bit in the fashion of young Elvis, Tony Wroten will take his controversial talents to Memphis.
The Pac-12 freshman of the year from Seattle’s Garfield High School, and the first UW frosh to be first-team all-conference, was chosen by the Grizzlies with the 25th pick in the first round of the NBA draft Thursday.
The 6-foo-6, 200-pound lefthander joins ex-Huskies teammate Terrence Ross, who was taken eighth by Toronto, to give Washington multiple selections, trailing Kentucky (four picks) and North Carolina (three) in the first round. Difference was, Washington, despite winning the Pac-12 regular-season championship, was not invited to the NCAA tournament.
Some of the Huskies’ shortfall was attributed to Wroten’s tendency to over-control proceedings and under-deliver on offense. He shot 44.3 percent from the floor, 9 of 56 from behind the arc and 58.3 percent from the line.
Wroten’s one-and-done decision April 3 to declare for the draft was debated by many because of the incompleteness of his game. But Memphis, 41-25 and second in the Southwest Division, doesn’t need his services immediately.
The Grizzlies lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angele Clippers in seven games. But coach Lionel Hollins has Rudy Gay and Mike Conley for a starting backcourt, so Wroten will have plenty of time to work on free throws. But Wroten’s athletic skills and brilliant passing game will figure to serve him well in the long term.
Earlier in the month, the team was sold by Michael Heisley to software engineer Robert Pera, so it’s hard to say what the Grizzlies will do in free agency.
Washington’s all time frosh leader in in points, steals and assists, Wroten was fifth among the nation’s freshman scorers with 16 points per game.
Wroten was the fifth UW player named freshman of the year and only the second Husky, besides Detlef Schrempf, with 500 points, 150 rebounds and 100 assists in a season.