When you think about Southern California and basketball, the first things that probably pop into your head are the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA and the Long Beach Bulls of the NBA. You also may think about the college programs in that area. We all know that USC has the Trojans, as well as UCLA, so that gives us some choices. However, did you know that there is an even bigger basketball program in the Pacific Northwest that nobody talks about? That’s right; there is the Washington Huskies.
The Huskies play at the University of Washington in Seattle. When the Huskies move to the theater they will play the same schedule as the Sooners. The Huskies have won six national championships and tied the record for most conference championships with UCLA. They also share a home court with the infamous USC Trojan’s. This gives Washington the ability to play some good basketball against Pac-10 teams like Oregon, Arizona, and California. The Huskies actually finished second behind the Trojans in the recent NCAA tournament in the west, but that was because USC lost to a team from the west, while the Huskies barely beat the Trojans in their home state.
Top Caliber Teams
Washington State University has been playing some of the best against the top caliber teams in the country such as VCU, Saint Joseph’s and even Gonzaga. This is what makes the Inland Empire an overall great basketball program. Washington State has one of the top ranked high school basketball programs in the entire country as well as some of the top high school programs in the entire country.
It should be easy for fans to see why so many people from southern California and everywhere else want to come watch the Huskies and other teams. The Huskies are extremely talented and have a very good chance to make it to the NCAA tournament with all the talent they have.
Washington State’s Inland Empire
Washington State’s Inland Empire is led by some great players that are amongst the best in the nation. Tyshon Valentine is one player that fans just love to hate because of all his injuries. Valentine is a below average outside shooter for basketball at this time and doesn’t shoot enough to be a real good shot guard. However, Valentine is a very good rebounder and has always been able to score well against bigger and stronger opponents.
Tyshon Valentine is probably the most underrated star on the team as he doesn’t get the amount of recognition that other players receive. But Valentine is extremely clutch when it comes to shot blocking. There are two freshmen on the team that are great shot blockers and should be able to solidify a place on the roster next year in terms of starter. David Woolley and Kyle Wilkins are both decent scorers that play with a lot of energy on the inside. Wilkins is also a very good ball handler.
Inland Empire Basketball Programs
The strength of the Inland Empire basketball programs is their ability to recruit top high school players. Washington State routinely gets players signed by top programs in the country and feeds them into their Inland Empire basketball program. However, this talent influx can be a double edged sword. Some programs may view talented high school players as a liability due to the lack of playing time. This means that these players may have to turn down bigger offers if they want to continue to play at Inland Empire.
Many of the players who have stayed in the program over the years have become NBA second round draft picks or All-Star caliber players, which makes the talent show on the court and gives the school exposure to top prospects. For instance, Darius Miller was a consensus top five pick in the 2005 national championship game. Taj Ford was a two-time winner of the Long Beach State men’s basketball tournament and is currently an all-star at guard.
However, if they want to stay in the program long-term they must remain in good grades. If a player consistently performs below average, they will not be allowed to continue to travel on scholarship. In order to maintain a long-term commitment to the basketball program they must also participate in varsity and travel ball.
The travel team is responsible for winning games and losses in games between other varsity all-star teams. Teams earn a fee from the league and receive a cut of the ticket sales from any home game sold.