Comparing Nigel Williams-Goss to Washington’s Last Five-Star Point GuardPosted by Andrew Murawa on October 11th, 2013
Four years ago at this time, Lorenzo Romar and Washington were happily welcoming in freshman point guard Abdul Gaddy, considered a top 20 national recruit and the second best point in the 2009 class behind only John Wall. Expectations were high that Gaddy would step right in and, in conjunction with already established backcourt players like Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton, help continue a great era in Husky basketball. What followed instead was an underwhelming freshman campaign (3.9 PPG, 2.3 APG in 18 MPG), a torn ACL early in a sophomore year where he had appeared much improved, and then a pair of pedestrian seasons to round out his collegiate career.
And now, as Romar is tasked with replacing Gaddy at the point, he welcomes in another highly regarded point guard recruit in Nigel Williams-Goss, a McDonald’s All-American regarded also as a top-20 recruit. With senior wing C.J. Wilcox locked in as a big-time scoring threat on the wing and a host of potential up front, it is possible that Williams-Goss could be the missing piece that helps take the Huskies back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. But Washington fans have reason to be skeptical.
It isn’t just the potential for the next big point guard recruit to disappoint that should have Husky fans worried, but how similar Gaddy and Williams-Goss appear to be. Admitting that I’ve only seen Williams-Goss play a pair of times in all-star game scenarios, there are significant similarities to their games. Heck, just check the ESPN recruiting reports on the two players (requires Insider). You’ll see Nigel Williams-Goss described as a high-IQ point guard with great size, skill and decision-making, but lacking great speed and quickness, a guy who is a great passer with a nice runner in the lane, and quick hands defensively. Go back a couple years and look at Gaddy’s description and, well, what do you know, you’ll see all those same phrases used back there. Same size, same weight, same lofty expectations, same game.
Now, clearly, a couple similarities on the scouting report in no way means that Williams-Goss’ career will follow Gaddy’s, but there are definitely reasons to be concerned. While Romar can ease Williams-Goss into the job thanks to the fact that combo guard Andrew Andrews is around, the Huskies really need the freshman to be the man at the point, because Andrews is more comfortable off the ball or as an instant offense threat. But, just as Gaddy struggled with turnovers throughout his Washington career (as a senior, he turned it over on almost a quarter of all possessions he used), Williams-Goss has a reputation as a turnover-prone guy, something he’ll need to correct pronto. And he’s not a guy who shoots the ball all that well nor does he project to be an explosive scorer at the college level. And then there’s the fact that when Washington has had its most success under Romar, it has been with smaller, super-quick points, like Thomas, Nate Robinson and, to a lesser extent, Justin Dentmon, rather than the bigger, more plodding points. Williams-Goss will have plenty of opportunity to prove this speculation unwarranted – surely there have been plenty of successful point guards without blinding quickness – but until he shows it on the court, the point guard spot will remain a question mark for the Huskies.