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Romar deserves praise for UW basketball culture

He didn’t want the attention, but it’s hard not to give it to him.

This day wasn’t about him, he insisted. The hard work of others was the reason why 50 or so friends and family members were at the Founder’s Club on June 24 to celebrate.

But excuse UW head basketball coach Lorenzo Romar if he didn’t want the spotlight on the day his star forward, Quincy Pondexter, was drafted 26th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2010 NBA Draft. Pondexter was later traded to New Orleans, though that deal cannot be approved by the league until July 8.

June 24 was all about Pondexter, and it should have been. The once-lanky kid from Fresno, Calif., saw four years of midnight workouts and sometimes frustration turn into his lifelong NBA dream.

It’s hard to wonder if Pondexter could have gotten to this point without Romar, though. We’re talking about a kid who, as a freshman, thought about transferring and struggled through a disappointing year that was supposed to be just a pit stop on his way to a one-and-done jump to the NBA.

Didn’t work that way, though. Pondexter needed the next two years to develop his game, restructuring his jump shot with the help of Ryan Appleby during last offseason and finally turning himself into a real, well-rounded basketball player.

“I’m more ready to play right now,” Pondexter said. “I know I can handle adversity. I can handle going through ups and downs. It’s going to be a great experience.”

And maybe it’s Romar, the wise, calm coach whom we should be crediting for making sure Quincy stuck around these past four years. You think John Calipari could have convinced a struggling, homesick 19-year-old that his best bet to achieve his dreams was going the four-year route?

“People in general want to point the finger so much and want to blame others for our own inadequacies,” Romar said. “[Quincy] didn’t do that. He dug inside himself, and he worked, and he got himself in the position to be a first-round pick.”

Pondexter is the sixth player in the Romar era to be drafted, following in the footsteps of former Husky greats Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones, Spencer Hawes (who was in attendance at Pondexter’s party on Thursday) and Jon Brockman.

There is an NBA legacy developing on Montlake. It speaks to the basketball talent hotbed that Seattle has become in recent years — from the aforementioned group, only Jones and Pondexter came from out of the area.

But it’s also evidence of Romar simply doing things the right way, running a program that welcomes class and accountability, two traits sorely lacking in today’s college game.

That Quincy got to smile on June 24 is merely further proof.

Reach Development Editor Christian Caple at development@dailyuw.com.

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