Quincy Pondexter arrived in Washington in 2006 with three other talented freshman. Pondexter, though, is the only one of that recruiting class left.
Taking on one of his former teammates for the second straight game Friday night, Pondexter and the 14th-ranked Huskies look to improve to 4-0 as they host San Jose State and guard Adrian Oliver.
Coming out of San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., three seasons ago, Pondexter was joined in Seattle by fellow freshman Spencer Hawes, Phil Nelson and Oliver. Hawes, though, left after one season and was drafted 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2007, while Nelson and Oliver transferred.
“I knew I was going to have to be a go-to guy this year,” Pondexter told the school’s official Web site.
Pondexter has embraced that role this season, averaging 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and shooting 63.9 percent from the field - all career bests.
Facing Nelson, who’s in his second season at Portland State, Pondexter scored a career-high 29 points and matched a career-best with 13 boards in Sunday’s 111-55 win over the Vikings in the finale of the round-robin Athletes in Action Classic.
Nelson scored 13, but just four in the game’s final 34 minutes.
“I thought he was all over the place. He’s playing some incredible basketball right now,” Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said of Pondexter, the Pac-10 player of the week. “He was just very active, defensively, on the glass, he was diving for loose balls. Our guys were really active.”
Pondexter and teammate Isaiah Thomas were named co-MVPs of the tournament following Washington’s most lopsided victory since a 118-51 win over Morgan State on Nov. 13, 2005.
Thomas, last season’s conference rookie of the year, is shooting 52.6 percent from 3-point range and leads the Huskies with 24.7 points per game.
He could be matched up against Oliver, who plays his first game at Washington since leaving the program just five games into his sophomore season.
Oliver averaged 4.7 points as a freshman and was second on the Huskies with 71 assists, but the native of Modesto, Calif., decided to move closer to home.
“At this point my family needs me and I need to be closer to them,” Oliver said after telling Romar of his decision. “I’m going to find a school down there where I can be with my family at the same time.”
Oliver led San Jose State with 17.1 points per game last season. In Monday’s 89-63 season-opening win over NAIA William Jessup, the junior guard scored 11 and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, but committed seven of the Spartans’ 21 turnovers.
“We were ragged at times,” coach George Nessman told San Jose State’s official Web site. “We can’t play that way and expect to succeed at Washington. We can’t have those spells or Washington will take us out of the game.”
Led by center Chris Oakes’ 15 boards, the Spartans outrebounded William Jessup 62-26. San Jose State, though, will face a much stiffer test as Washington is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 18.3.
“I’m not saying we’re a great rebounding team but we’re making progress that way,” Romar said.
This is the teams’ second meeting. Washington, then-No. 12, defeated San Jose State 88-69 on Dec. 20, 1976.