Despite this year being his last at the University of Washington, senior Abdul Gaddy wants to show fans and critics alike a side of his game that he has only flashed during his time on Montlake.
It’s not as if the point guard from Tacoma is still trying to find himself. Quite the opposite, actually. He’s one of the Huskies’ most prolific passers, entering the season eighth on the school’s all-time assist list. He has also started more games than anyone on the current roster and is on the floor more than almost all of his teammates.
But unlike his first three years, Gaddy is looking to show the aspect of his game that prompted Coach Lorenzo Romar to recruit him from Bellarmine Prep in the first place.
Gaddy wants to remind people that he can be UW’s biggest scoring threat. The 6-foot-3 guard wants to show that he can create his own shot while getting his teammates involved. He wants to show that instead of helping the Huskies find success and postseason play, he can be the one who leads them to it.
“Since I’ve been here, I haven’t had a chance to be the main guy,” he told Patch. “I always had a role.”
“The main thing is to be a better scorer. I’m going to be a more aggressive scorer like I was in high school.”
Through the Huskies first four games this year – including an impressive win against Seton Hall and uninspiring losses to Ohio State and stunningly to Albany -Gaddy leads that team in scoring at 16 points per game. He also leads the team in assists (3.0 ppg) and is second in steals with three.
But a big scoring year is the thing Gaddy wants to stamp on his collegiate resume, a resume that points to a roster spot on an NBA team.
The way he explains it, Gaddy made a conscious decision to distribute the ball his first three years. After all, he shared the court with a pair of NBA first-round draft picks last year in Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, and one of UW’s most clutch players in its history before that in Isaiah Thomas. By the way, Thomas is also playing in the NBA.
“My job was always to make those guys’ jobs easier,” he said.
But that selflessness is one of the things about Gaddy that, at times, has driven Husky fans insane. He has disappeared offensively trying to get other players involved, which hurt the team even more when opposing coaches would craft game plans around stopping Thomas, Ross and Wroten
But there’s a flip side: the more he looks for scoring opportunities, the more Gaddy runs the risk of not getting his teammates involved. Opposing teams might also try to force him to into a bad decision. One of the conference's most efficient ball-handlers in the past, Gaddy has tallied a team-high 13 turnovers this year.
Still, Gaddy looks forward to the challenge. He wants to prove that Romar – whom he credits with helping him mature as a person and a man – made the right decision to recruit him so aggressively.
More importantly, he wants to lead UW to a deep run in the postseason. The sting of not being invited to the NCAA Tournament last year – despite being the regular-season champions of the Pac-12 –has yet to subside.
Gaddy is also aware of the Huskies’ streak of winning either the Pac-12’s regular season or tournament title. He says the Huskies have the ability to surprise doubters.
“The thing is we have the talent to really shock some people in the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “But we have to wait and see.”
As we ended our chat, I asked Gaddy to reflect on how he’s part of a tradition of athletes from the South Sound who have been cast in starring roles on college teams. That includes Thomas and Washington State’s DaVonte Lacy from Curtis High, and Gonzaga’s Gary Bell Jr. of Kentridge.
Of course he realizes it, Gaddy says. He relishes serving as a role model to other up-and-comers from Tacoma. He takes pride in his roots that are planted in the city’s East Side.
“When we’re traveling, anytime someone asks me whether I’m from Seattle, I say, ‘Naw, I’m from Tacoma,’” he says.
Plenty of high school basketball fans from the South Sound can recall how Gaddy used to take over games. Now, it’s time for him to make the rest of the world see it too.