It’s that time of year where I start taking up college hoops on Basketball Prospectus, and today I tried to wrap up the careers of the Pac-12’s rotation seniors. My comments on Darnell Gant:
Depending on how the Huskies finish the season, Gant has a chance to be the first player in school history to reach the NCAA tournament four times. Already, he’s the first ever to win 20-plus games all four years. That’s had more to do with Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas and Terrence Ross, sure, but Gant has played a role. A versatile defender, he’s turned himself into an efficient option on offense by extending his range beyond the three-point line. In fact, only one UW teammate (C.J. Wilcox) has a higher Offensive Rating this season. No wonder that when I ran plus-minus numbers for the Huskies at midseason, Gant was one of the standouts.
I also wanted to add a quick note on Brendan Sherrer that wouldn’t have been appropriate for the national audience. Before this season, I was a touch worried about the adoration for Sherrer, given the obvious racial element that he was the only white player on the UW roster. It troubled me that when Antoine Hosley walked on to the team last year, he barely got token applause while the crowd exploded for Sherrer. Fortunately, when Alex Wegner arrived as a walk-on this season, it rendered the argument moot. Like Hosley, Wegner barely gets noticed by the crowd.
There is a little of the soft tyranny of low expectations here–while Sherrer’s entire career was strictly reserved for garbage time, it looks like Wegner could maybe help the team someday with his outside shooting–but mostly Sherrer’s popularity seems to be a function of his unique backstory. Not many players can say they started college as season-ticket holders (part of the Dawg Pack, no less) and ended them as two-time conference tournament champions.
Before Sherrer was invited to walk on following tryouts, Lorenzo Romar explained his reticence to bring on walk-ons because many of them end up disappointed with their small role. There was never any such worry with Sherrer, the ultimate teammate.
In the end, Sherrer got his reward. Against Arizona last Saturday, in his last scheduled home game, Sherrer got the traditional Senior Day start. Kudos to Romar for sticking with Sherrer even in a must-win game. The walk-on responded with a couple of solid minutes of basketball–his pick-and-roll defense was particularly effective–before giving way to Aziz N’Diaye. With the game decided, Sherrer got back on the floor in the late stages and then got one final ovation from the Dawg Pack as he left the floor. Now that’s a way to go out.