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Late one night two years ago swingman Quincy Pondexter, then a sophomore, sat in coach Lorenzo Romar's office and vented about his lack of playing time. Finally Romar told him, "Let's call Brandon." When he got former Huskies guard Brandon Roy on the speakerphone and described the setting—"It's late, it's just Quincy and me in the office"—Roy, the 2006 Pac-10 player of the year and the '07 NBA rookie of the year, burst out laughing. "He said, 'Quincy, I've been there many times. Just stick to the plan and trust in Coach Romar,'" recalls Pondexter. "I've done that, and so far it's working out."
After two years of only sporadically living up to his recruiting hype, Pondexter "turned a corner" last season, says Romar, averaging 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds over the last 14 games; in the team's two NCAA tournament games he totaled 43 points. "Down the stretch he was our leading scorer," says Romar. "Yet it seems that he's getting overlooked—again."
The 6'6" Pondexter has long been overshadowed—first at San Joaquin Memorial High in Fresno by 7-foot twins Robin and Brook Lopez, then at Washington by future pros Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman and by point guard Isaiah Thomas, the 2008--09 Pac-10 freshman of the year. This season the buzz in Seattle is about freshman playmaker Abdul Gaddy. "I've learned to be patient," says Pondexter. "I think my time is finally here."
Few Huskies have been as driven as Pondexter, who won the team's last two most improved player awards. This summer he played on the U.S.'s bronze-medal-winning World University Games squad and revamped his jumper with former Washington sharpshooter Ryan Appleby.
"There are a lot of expectations for the team that weren't there last year," Pondexter says of the Huskies, who've been picked to repeat as Pac-10 champs. He's finally poised to help Washington live up to them—and to live up to his own.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Lorenzo Romar (8th season)