Having missed the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, lost Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten to the NBA draft and missed out on a handful of potential replacements on the recruiting trail, Lorenzo Romar entered the summer of 2013 eager to replenish his roster.
To help him do it, he shook up his staff, opting not to renew the contracts of longtime assistants Jim Shaw and Paul Fortier and hiring T.J. Otzelberger and Raphael Chillious in their place. Oztelberger had established himself as a top recruiter while helping Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg revive that program. Chillious had played a key role in recruiting Isaiah Thomas to Washington before leaving for a year to join Jay Wright's staff at Villanova.
The impact of that staff makeover is apparent in the loaded Class of 2015 Washington has assembled this summer. The Huskies added their fourth Rivals 150 commit on Monday night as small forward Matisse Thybulle tweeted he would be staying in-state and playing for Romar at Washington.
Thybulle, a late-blooming 6-foot-6 wing rated the No. 120 prospect in Rivals.com's Class of 2015, chose Washington over Gonzaga, Oregon and Cal. He joins a class that includes 6-foot-8 Northern California product Marquese Chriss (No. 46) and Seattle natives Dejounte Murray (No. 51) and David Crisp (148).
Landing a class of that caliber is critical for Romar in his quest to get his program back to contending for Pac-12 titles and quiet the growing number of Huskies fans pushing for a change in leadership.
Washington won the Pac-12 title in 2012 behind Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten but missed the NCAA tournament in a historically weak year for the conference. When Ross and Wroten both left early for the NBA the following spring and Washington missed on potential top recruits Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird and others, the program lacked sufficient talent to compete in the Pac-12 and went a combined 35-31 the past two years.
Expectations for next season again are modest despite the return of forward Jernard Jerreau from injury and the presence of a strong backcourt of Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews.
Should those three opt to stay in school one more year and play with the incoming recruits, however, the Huskies could be back to their former place in the Pac-12 pecking order.
- - - - - - -