The Huskies' captain has stepped up his game in his final season, making himself a legitimate high NBA draft prospect.
Quincy Pondexter’s Jon Brockman moment came sooner than he imagined.
Several minutes into Washington’s last basketball game, Pondexter picked up a questionable second foul while driving for a layup and he knew the Huskies weren’t going to blow out San Jose State, like they did to two previous opponents.
As Edmundson Pavilion fans showered officials with boos and catcalls, UW’s lone senior captain gathered the Huskies around him with the score tied 13-13 less than 14 minutes before halftime.
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“I told them, ‘This is going to be like a road game because of the fouls and everything else,’ ” Pondexter said. “I said, ‘Don’t lose your head. Don’t worry about the refs. Just play your game.’
“When it’s heated like that, it helps sometimes for the young guys to hear that.”
And sometimes it helps when the most experienced player on the team delivers 30 points and 15 rebounds — both career highs — as Pondexter did in the 80-70 win over the Spartans.
A year ago, Brockman was Washington’s double-double menace on the court and calming influence on the bench.
This season, it’s Pondexter.
“I’m a little more vocal than Jon, but at that moment he would have probably gathered us around him, put an arm around everybody and said something,” Pondexter said. “You never forget those things. Those are just little lessons, and I guess I’m doing the same thing now.”
Two weeks into Washington’s 4-0 start, Pondexter has not only emerged as the face of the Huskies, he’s also the face of the Pac-10 and perhaps even the best senior in the country.
Through Friday’s game, Pondexter ranked 10th in the nation at 24 points per game and sixth with 12 rebounds per game.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar knew Pondexter was good, but not this good.
“I wouldn’t have thought he would be averaging 12 rebounds per game or 24 points,” he said. “I would have thought 18 and 9, or 18 and 8, and I would have said, ‘Wow, he’s really playing.’ But 24 and 12 — yeah, he’s exceeded my expectations.
“That’s pretty good. If you finish the year at 24 and 12, you’re an All-American. Maybe first team.”
In a blog post Tuesday, ESPN NBA and draft analyst Chad Ford rated Pondexter the top senior draft prospect and predicts he has a chance to crack the lottery.
Before the season, Pondexter wasn’t considered much of an NBA prospect, and he wasn’t listed on the most popular mock draft sites last week.
Ford compares Pondexter to former Sonic Desmond Mason. Romar likens Pondexter’s ascension to that of ex-Husky Brandon Roy, who began his final year with modest expectations. Roy averaged 20.2 points and led UW to a Sweet 16 appearance as a senior before being selected sixth in the NBA draft.
“Quincy really understands our system,” Romar said. “He really understands the college game. He understands what butters his bread. He is stronger. He’s a senior.
“What we’re seeing is what happens if you’re talented and you stay in school for four years. You really improve.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org