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UW players heading to NBA draft: Ready or not

UW's Terrence Ross (31) and Tony Wroten (14) celebrate their 57-53 win over Utah on Jan. 7, 2012. Ross was the Huskies' leading scorer with 14 points.
Colin E. Braley
AP Photo
UW's Terrence Ross (31) and Tony Wroten (14) celebrate their 57-53 win over Utah on Jan. 7, 2012. Ross was the Huskies' leading scorer with 14 points.

They were the top two players on the University of Washington basketball team this season. They weren't able to get the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament, but sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten are nonetheless leaving UW to enter the NBA draft.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says only one of them is ready.

Ross - yes

Art says Terrence Ross has what it takes to make an immediate impact in the NBA.

"I think he's going to be a solid pro - probably eight to 10 years. He's physically mature. He's got a more complete game that I think can be effective almost right away in the NBA."

Wroten - no

Art says there are too many holes in Tony Wroten's game, and calls his decision to enter the NBA draft "reckless." Art says Wroten is one of the most polarizing figures that he's seen in Washington in recent years - at least among fans.

"He does the spectacular very well. He's just a very dynamic player. But he's also got some real shortcomings in his game. He can't shoot - kind of a fundamental thing in basketball. He's got a very weak outside shot - even his mid-range shot. The thing he does really well is rebound his own miss. He's a very quick jumper so he's able to get to the rim and get his rebound - or anyone else's rebound - and put it back in. It's a great little niche talent. But he also can't shoot free throws."

Art says his lack of talent at the free throw line was painfully evident in the March 8 game against Oregon State game in Pac-12 tournament. As reported by Sportspress NorthwestWroten missed four free throws in the final 18 seconds that cost them the game and probably a bid in the NCAA Tournament. Art says a lot of Husky fans are still upset about that.

"Fans are also upset with his over control of the ball and his tendency to break from team play to go one-on-one. He's been a superstar all his life - Garfield in Seattle, he was an all-state player. And he just tends to be immature in his judgments. I think for all those reasons Tony is going to have to sit the bench for a couple three years in the NBA, which is not necessarily the worst thing in the world because you're going to get a guaranteed contract to do so - so I understand his motivations. But he's not going to be a contributor early."

Sportspress Northwest reports that, to Wroten's credit, he was named to the All-Pac-12 first team, the first Huskies' freshman to do so. He was the UW’s all-time freshman leader in points, steals, assists and was fourth in rebounds. He was one of five finalists for the Wayman Tisdale national freshman of the year award.

Do away with 'one-and-done'

Art says he's not a fan of the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule that went into effect after the 2005 season. The NBA and its players agreed to add an age limit requiring players entering the draft to be 19 years old or have completed their freshman year of college. As a result, players who would have jumped directly to the pros out of high school were forced to spend a year in college - or sit out a year - before entering the draft.

Art says this was done to keep NBA scouts from having to visit the more than 20,000 high schools in the country. But it's hard for college basketball fans to root for players who are only there for a short time.

"It frustrates a lot of fans because they want to get to know a player. They want to see him go through four years. But you can't restrain the trade. I think the 'one-and-done' is actually legal. I think it's a bad rule. I think it should be either two years so the kid really gets something out of college and gives something to the team or zero - go back to the old way and let the NBA scouts go into high schools. That's their problem, not the kids' problem. This rule does not benefit the players."

You can read more coverage of this issue - including what Tony Wroten had to say about his decision to enter the NBA draft - at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.