- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) - What might be viewed as a concern to start the season, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar hopes will eventually become a strength.

The Huskies will enter the 2014-15 season with their backcourt set in guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews. There is more depth at the wing positions with Mike Anderson moving back to a more natural small forward spot, along with Darin Johnson and newcomers Quevyn Winters and Donaven Dorsey.

The frontcourt, though, is filled with questions a season after Washington went 17-15 and missed the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.

“At this time last year we had a big, new frontcourt and then they all got hurt. Something happened one by one, we were depleted,” Romar said Thursday. “My hope is that we can be healthy and we can get out there on the floor and if that happens it gives us an entirely different look from the one that we had last year with our group.”

Much of Washington’s frontcourt worry could be alleviated if Jernard Jarreau returns healthy from the torn ACL suffered early last season. Jarreau was expected to be a significant part of Washington’s plans last season, only to get hurt 2 minutes into the opener.

Jarreau has not been cleared for full participation in all aspects of practice but Romar expects that to come within the next couple of weeks. That should give Jarreau enough time to work into shape before the Nov. 14 season opener against South Carolina State.

At 6-foot-10 and now up to 245 pounds, Jarreau provides height and athleticism the Huskies did not have last season.

“I’m not nervous. I’m anxious, like excited to get back out there and just fully do a full practice with the guys and scrimmage at the end with the guys. I’m pretty confident in myself and my knee,” Jarreau said.

Along with Jarreau’s return, the other unknown up front is what Fresno State transfer Robert Upshaw could provide. Upshaw’s numbers during his one season at Fresno State did not stand out, but his defensive presence around the basket could be significant after opponents shot nearly 46 percent against the Huskies last season. Washington finished the year with only 39 blocked shots, which ranked 255th in the country and 11th in the Pac-12.

Jarreau Upshaw, Shawn Kemp Jr., and Gilles Dierickx are Washington’s only players taller than 6-foot-7. The Huskies had 6-foot-9 forward Tristan Etienne on the roster until early this week when it was announced he was leaving school. Romar said Etienne did nothing wrong and it was his personal choice to leave, but he did have a chance to contribute this season.

Williams-Goss flirted briefly last spring with the idea of leaving after his freshman season and entering the NBA draft. He ultimately decided on returning to Washington, feeling his game wasn’t refined enough yet for the NBA.

He now will be tasked with taking on more of the scoring load after the graduation of leading scorer C.J. Wilcox and his 18.3 points per game. Williams-Goss averaged 13.4 points as a freshman.

“My main goal is whenever I do get a chance to reach that point, I want to be ready to make an impact,” Williams-Goss said.


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