So, go ahead, project Washington's starting men's basketball lineup for next season. "All I know," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, "is that we've got it covered, whatever happens...

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So, go ahead, project Washington’s starting men’s basketball lineup for next season.

“All I know,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, “is that we’ve got it covered, whatever happens.”

You watch practice and realize Ryan Appleby, the transfer from Florida, may well be the replacement for Will Conroy at point guard.

“He’s having a great redshirt year,” Romar said. “He’s gone against Will and Nate (Robinson) in every practice.

“They get rest, and he doesn’t. He gets fouled, and there’s no call. And not once has he complained. Not once has he backed down. He has earned the respect of our players.”

College basketball has become more volatile with players transferring after a year — as Appleby did — and others deciding to leave college prematurely for the NBA if they even get to college in the first place.

The UW roster is interesting. It contains only three seniors — Conroy, Tre Simmons and Hakeem Rollins — and yet Romar has signed seven preps to letters of intent, guaranteeing them scholarships.

Teams are allowed 13 players on scholarship. Washington has 12, having gained one back when Anthony Washington left the team.

“We won’t run anyone off,” Romar said. “We wouldn’t do that. History tells us this will work out.”

Clearly, Romar doesn’t want to get caught short by NBA defections, recruits not meeting eligibility requirements, or reserves transferring for more playing time.

So, like United Airlines, he has sold more seats than he has.

He knows that Robinson almost opted for the NBA last year. He knows Brandon Roy, especially playing the way he did in Sunday’s big win over North Carolina State, could leave a year early as well.

At that point, he would have seven returning players on scholarship — including Appleby and freshman forward Zach Johnson, who is redshirting after knee surgery. He would need only one of his seven new recruits to fail to meet NCAA standards to comply with the NCAA scholarship limit.

Or, of course, have Seattle Prep’s Martell Webster bypass the Huskies and go straight to the NBA.

If you missed it, Webster had quite a game this week in a national prep tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., scoring 37 points as his team beat Vincent High School of Milwaukee and 33 yesterday in a loss.

“I can’t imagine a better high-school player in the United States than him,” Vincent coach Tom Diener said. “He’s got an NBA body. He’s huge. Some of these kids can’t make the jump (to the NBA), but Martell’s ready.”

Romar seems more certain of Webster playing for Washington next season than he does Robinson or Roy.

“Never once has Martell said he is going to the NBA,” Romar said. “What he is saying publicly is the same as he is telling us privately.”

The six other UW recruits are guards Justin Dentmon from Carbondale, Ill., Harvey Perry from Henderson, Nev., and Robert Sallie from Sacramento, Calif., forwards Jon Brockman from Snohomish and Artem Wallace from Toledo, and center Joe Wolfinger, a 7-footer, from Beaverton, Ore.

Dentmon is a true point guard who could challenge Appleby for the starting job.

“It’s been a win-win situation for us this year having Ryan redshirting,” Romar said. “We have two very good guards (Robinson and Conroy) but if they relax for a moment in practice, Ryan is going to make them pay for it.

“He can really shoot the ball and other than Nate he is the fastest guy on our team.”

Appleby, who prepped at Stanwood High, crossed the country to play at Florida because he wanted to run and gun, and play big-time basketball. He saw only limited minutes as a freshman for the Gators, but opened the season as a starter.

Coach Billy Donovan slowed the team down as the year progressed. Meanwhile, Appleby finally saw the style he wanted to play while watching the Huskies jet up and down the court against North Carolina State last year on television.

“I liked the way they were playing,” he said, “and it just happened they were in my home state.”

Appleby waits, sure he has found the right style and coach the second time around.

“When I was in high school, the Huskies weren’t the team you saw on Saturdays when you turned on college basketball,” he said. “But that’s changed. With the guys we’re getting and coach Romar is recruiting, we will be good for a long time.”

No matter who is on the roster.

A lineup for next year? How about Mike Jensen, Bobby Jones, Jon Brockman, Martell Webster and Ryan Appleby? Or Jensen, Jones, Brockman, Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy? Or Jones, Jamaal Williams, Artem Wallace, Joel Smith and Justin Dentmon?


Blaine Newnham: 206-464-2364 or