Ex-Benson player eager for next level with Huskies, beyond

by: COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON - Washington Huskies guard Andrew Andrews, from Benson High, has emerged as one of the teams top scorers.Andrew Andrews isn’t bitter that Oregon and Oregon State didn’t offer him a scholarship right away. Instead, the 6-2, 195-pound sophomore guard from Benson High says he enjoys playing for coach Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies (11-8, 3-3 Pac-12).

“I don’t know why they didn’t recruit me,” Andrews says, of the Ducks or Beavers. “But no hard feelings for either school. It is what it is.”

Andrews and the Huskies will play host to Oregon at 8 p.m. Thursday, and Oregon State visits them at Seattle at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Andrews says the decision to attend UW was easy after finishing his senior year as the 2011 Class 5A co-player of the year and averaging 24 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a Tech team that lost to Corvallis 79-73 in double overtime for the state title.

Andrews scored a game-high 41 points in the 5A final.

“My family and my mentors pushed for (Washington) and really liked the fit,” he says.

“I chose Washington because it was a good fit. It was a guard school, and I wanted to get away from home, but still be close enough to go back if I needed to.”

Andrews is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 12.6 points, along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while playing 31.5 minutes per game.

The Huskies’ leading scorer is Andrews’ good friend and fellow guard, senior C.J. Wilcox (19.7 points per game). The 6-5 Wilcox, from Pleasant Grove, Utah, is projected to go as high as the first round in this year’s NBA draft.

“He’s a good option when teams focus on me,” Wilcox says, of Andrews. “He’s been real efficient, and is scoring at great times. He’s always making sure that I’m getting my shot when I need the ball. Plus, he’s getting others involved.”

After redshirting his true freshman season, Andrews had off-season hip surgery that kept him out of “game shape” for a while. He bounced back and scored in double figures nine times last season, with a season-high 20 points against Arizona State. He finished at 7.8 points per game, but shot only 36.3 percent from the field. He also dished out 72 assists, ninth all-time for a UW freshman.

This season, he has started every game.

“Redshirt year was great for me to sit and observe on certain situations,” he says. “It prepared me and helped stir me to how I would be able to play — and things I wouldn’t be able to do — because the game is so much different after high school.”

What has changed in his demeanor and willingness to get better this season?

“I’m being more aggressive and taking on the role I had in high school of being a scorer,” he says.

The Huskies also feature Nigel Williams-Goss, a 6-3, 185-pound freshman point guard from Happy Valley who played four years at one of the top basketball schools in the nation— Findlay Prep in Nevada. He was a McDonald’s All-American in 2013. He’s the third leading scorer for UW, averaging 12.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. He has started every game.

“Me and ‘Drew’ played on the same AAU team in the third grade,” Williams-Goss says, of his relationship with Andrews. “We’ve known each for a very long time and been good friends.”

Andrews says the Oregon and Oregon State games will be exciting for him.

“I guess you can say they’re penciled in,” he says, “because it’s always in the back of my head when we play them (UO and OSU).

“I know a lot of people will want to come. I try to get the ticket situation sorted out early. And, it being my second year playing against them, it won’t mean as much if we don’t get the win. Last year, we lost both games when we were down there.”

Andrews stays in touch with former Jefferson High and UW standout Terrence Ross, who was selected eighth overall in the 2012 NBA draft after playing two stellar seasons for the Huskies. Ross is averaging close to double figures for the Toronto Raptors and won the NBA slam dunk contest a year ago.

“I call or text him every now and then to see how he is doing,” Andrews says. “The NBA season is rough, with their schedule, but when we talk, it’s never really about basketball. It’s just about how things have been going.”

Andrews wants to be the next big thing to come out of Portland. Can he do it?

“I hope so,” he says, “but I try not to put that pressure on myself. I just worry about playing basketball and working hard, and I think the chips will fall in place.”

Wilcox says Andrews can make it as a pro.

“He can play after Washington,” Wilcox says. “His work ethic is second to none in the gym. Every year, he’s going to get better. He has the potential to play at the next level, whether it’s the NBA or somewhere overseas.”

Andrews says mentor Dony Wilcher and his UW trainer “do a great job on that with me as well, making sure I’m not worried about things I can’t control. Because If I do what I’m supposed to do, good things will come.”

Wilcher, 36, is a freelance mentor and trainer in the Portland area. He looks at Andrews like “a little brother.”

“Andrews can and absolutely will make it to the next level with his talent,” Wilcher says.

Wilcher says things are starting to fall into place for Andrews, who will be looked at to lead the Huskies next season.

Wilcher grew up in the Los Angeles area and has known Romar since he was in high school.

“Andrews went to a camp at UW, and Romar really liked him but said he didn’t have room on the roster,” Wilcher says. “But by the time the camp ended, Romar said they had to have him.”

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