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8. Washington
Kelli Anderson
November 23, 1998
Mixing a sweet-shooting center with a sugar-shunning guard, the Huskies are anticipating a honey of a season
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November 23, 1998

8. Washington

Mixing a sweet-shooting center with a sugar-shunning guard, the Huskies are anticipating a honey of a season

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STARTING LINEUP

POS.

HT.

CLASS

KEY STAT

SF Deon Luton#

6'4"

Jr.

15.4 ppg

PF Thalo Green

6'6"

So.

53.6 FG%

C Todd MacCulloch#

7'0"

Sr.

18.6 ppg

SG Donald Watts#

6'4"

Sr.

16.9 ppg

PG Dan Dickau

6'1"

So.

3.8 ppg

'97-98 record: 20-10
Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 24
#Returning starter

Fifth-year senior center Todd MacCulloch doesn't stand out among his Huskies teammates simply because he's 7-foot. On a squad that includes four sons of former Seattle SuperSonics, he may be the one player whose childhood was not filled with visions of an NBA career. When you grow up in Winnipeg, there are other things to dream about, like hockey and moving to a warmer place. But if the NBA wasn't in MacCulloch's past, it's almost certainly in his future.

After arriving in Seattle four years ago so out of shape he couldn't bench-press 65 pounds, MacCulloch has firmed up his body and his game to the point that he's led the nation in field goal percentage for the last two years. (Only Ohio State's Jerry Lucas has done that in three straight seasons, from 1959-60 to '61-62.) Furthermore, MacCulloch's averages of 21.7 points and 12 rebounds in three NCAA tournament games last year were a big reason the Huskies went from a bubble team to within a point of making the Elite Eight, losing 75-74 to UConn. "I didn't know if he would pan out when he got here," says senior guard Donald Watts of MacCulloch, who now bench-presses 240 pounds. "But now he looks like he wants to go places."

The same can be said of Watts. The 1995 Washington schoolboy player of the year and son of former Sonics star Slick Watts struggled his first two seasons with fatigue and unspectacular play. His mother suspected those conditions were related to a diet that included several candy bars and quarts of Gatorade a day, which he chased with a box or two of Hot Tamales candies before bed. After consulting a naturopath, Watts spent his Christmas break last season eating figs and battling sugar withdrawal. "It was like getting off a drug," says Watts. "I was shaking. But after three days I bounced right back." His points per game bounced ahead too, from 13.0 to 16.9.

Along with the touch of MacCulloch, the penetration of Watts and the long-range bombing of junior swingman Deon Luton (75 threes last year), Washington is counting on greater depth, much of which springs from some impressive gene pools. The Huskies' three other scions of former Sonics are Lonnie Shelton's son Marlon, a raw 6'9", 265-pound freshman center with a 7'4" wingspan; Downtown Freddie Brown's son Bryan, a 6'3" sophomore guard; and Paul Westphal's son, Michael, a 6'2" walk-on this year. None of the three are likely to see as much time as Greg Clark, brother of Detroit Tigers first baseman Tony Clark, who is a redshirt sophomore competing for the power forward spot with sophomore Thalo Green, an art major who is named after a paint color.

As for MacCulloch, he doesn't care what color paint he steps into at the end of this season, as long as it says NCAA on it. "It was great finally going to the four-letter tournament instead of the three-letter one," says MacCulloch, who ended his first two seasons in the NIT. "We want to go back."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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