Dee Brown is both a night owl and a hoops junkie, which is why he was ahead of
the curve in recognizing the multifaceted talent of Washington's Brandon Roy.
During the regular season Brown often stayed up past midnight, searching out
college games on television, and he would sometimes find Roy out on the West
Coast, slicing and dicing opponents like a gadget on one of the late-night
infomercials that were playing on other channels. "I could see right away
he was a player, and he could do so many things," Brown said before facing
him last Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament in San Diego.
"You don't need to tell me how good Brandon Roy is."
Much of the rest
of the country, however, had not been brought up to speed on Roy until his
unveiling in the tournament. He had 28 points, five assists and three steals in
the fifth-seeded Huskies' 75-61 first-round win over No. 12 seed Utah State,
then topped that with a brilliant all-around performance in a 67-64 win over
Illinois, the fourth seed. In addition to his 21 points, seven rebounds and
three assists, Roy, a 6'6" senior guard, helped harass Brown into missing
13 of 18 shots. The victory sent the Huskies into the Sweet 16, where they will
meet UConn on Friday in Washington, D.C. "Brandon was everywhere tonight,
doing a little of everything," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar after
the Illinois game.
Now that people
outside the Pacific time zone know who he is, there is a growing sentiment that
Roy, the Pac-10 player of the year, should be mentioned along with Duke's J.J.
Redick and Adam Morrison of Gonzaga in the debate over who is college
basketball's best player. "[ Roy] doesn't average as many points as those
guys, but he has just as big an effect on the game because of all the things he
does," says Washington forward Bobby Jones.
UConn will have a
hard time containing Roy because of his varied skills. Illinois tried to wear
him down with physical contact, but Roy attacked the basket and made the Illini
pay from the foul line. If Connecticut takes away his penetration, he can
inflict damage from outside; he has shot 40% from beyond the arc this season.
Because of Roy's strength, his defensive prowess and his ability to penetrate,
pass, post up and hit the outside jumper, his game is similar to Detroit
Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups's. "Brandon might be underrated by
some people," says Romar, "but not by the people looking for players
for the next level."
There was a time
when Roy relished his anonymity. A highly regarded hometown recruit from
Seattle's Garfield High, he failed three times to get the minimum SAT score
required for eligibility, which kept him from joining the Huskies until the
second semester of his freshman year. He worked as a janitor in a shipping
plant while he waited to become eligible, and he tried to dodge inquiring fans
at home games. "I'd sit way high up in the stands, hoping nobody would
notice me," he says.
considered skipping college entirely, but after a tough workout with the Trail
Blazers he decided he wasn't ready for the NBA. He again contemplated going pro
early after last season but opted to return for his senior year to improve his
draft stock. That decision looks like a smart move because Roy seems far more
likely to be a first-round draft pick than he was a year ago. For now, however,
he is less concerned with his NBA future than with getting his team beyond the
Sweet 16, which is where the Huskies were eliminated last season.
are seeing me now than at any other time in my career, and that's great,"
Roy said after the victory over the Illini. "But this is about winning, not
about my proving anything to the scouts." Then again, there is one other
talent Roy would like to show off before his college career is over: He thinks
he would be pretty good at cutting down a net.