Washington Huskies Head Coach Lorenzo Romar and incoming freshman Tony Wroten Jr. are two different people. While Romar is characterized by his quiet confidence and refusal to say a single swear word, his incoming freshman, Wroten, is brash, profane and carries some entitlement.
The arrival of Tony Wroten Jr. will undoubtedly test Romar's mentoring ability. For a player that local basketball fans have been eying since his freshman year of high school, the expectations on the shoulders of Wroten are unreal.
Wroten is arguably the most heralded basketball recruit ever to play for the Washington Huskies. At the same time, no incoming player has ever faced as much adversity and controversy as Wroten already has encountered preceding his college career.
The five-star recruit found himself as the subject of two major investigations headed by the Seattle Public School District while at Garfield High School. At the beginning of his sophomore year, the district removed Wroten from Garfield HS after a district investigation found him to be violating residency rules.
Then, near the end of his senior year, it was revealed that the Garfield athletic director helped Wroten receive passing grades for a Spanish class that never existed.
While the attention has been put on Wroten for reasons that may or may not have been out of his control, the future NBA star has done nothing to divert attention away from himself. After the Spanish class story broke, Wroten immaturely responded through his twitter by attacking Seattle Times reporter Mason Kelley:
Lol this guy @masonkelley be lying. Lol we r retarded now? Lol yea ok. I guarantee it wouldn't even b a story if MY name wasn't in it. Lol Its koo though cause u will NEVER get another interview with me. Never again. Now retweet that. Lol. (Via: SB Nation Seattle)
Moreover, Wroten is not exactly applauded for his sportsmanship on the court.
During his time at Garfield, Wroten frequently threw up a gang signs, yelled expletives, and failed to hustle back to play defense during games. He was never afraid to yell at his teammates and could be seen pouting with his head down on the bench when things were not going his way.
He's a cocky player and he's not afraid to play for entertainment (I've never seen a player look and acknowledge his student section so much).
Can Lorenzo Romar change Tony Wroten Jr.?
History tells us yes.
Romar is on record as saying Nate Robinson and everyone else on the 2004-05 Husky Basketball team were the cockiest players he had ever coached. Though Robinson might not be as cocky as Wroten, Romar's proven track record of sending players to the NBA will be enough to gain Wroten's respect.
Here's what it comes down to: Wroten will do what Romar wants him to do, or he won't play. It's not like the Huskies will suffer greatly if Wroten is not playing. They already have an established starting point guard in Abdul Gaddy, and sufficient guard depth to carry the season.
However, Wroten makes this team much better when he's on the court. And he'll soon realize he will have to make adjustments, both off the court and on it, to play minutes.
Unlike the adults who have bended the rules for Wroten in the past, Romar definitely won't. This is especially true after the Venoy Overton saga. Romar will have an even firmer grip on his player's behavior and conduct off the court. There was not a single person in the world who felt as much regret and shame as Romar did after Overton's actions of promoting prostitution.
Romar spoke to Percy Allen of the Seattle Times on his overall thoughts of the situation:
Just crushed (and) disappointed. You know you go through battles with those that play for you and come through your program here at the University of Washington. We've been able to win a lot of those battles together and this one here is just very disappointing. You'd like to think that everyone is going to reach their potential in all aspects, but every once in awhile it doesn't work that way.
Romar, quite frankly, did his best to mentor Overton. Unfortunately, he was never able to get through to him. The comforting thought is the fact that Romar cares so much about his players. He could have easily kicked Overton to the curb and disowned him, but instead he revealed the intense personal disappointment he felt when the news broke.
The media and fans may not be aware of the amount of pressure Romar feels in his duty to help Wroten grow into a man. After examining Romar's comments regarding the Overton saga, it is clear Romar's mission to change young lives is, and always be, his number one priority.
In a recent CBSSports.com article by Jeff Goodman, Romar revealed why he coaches college basketball and chooses to continually pass up opportunities to potentially coach in the NBA:
I want to impact lives, he said. ...The time from 17 to 22 is a pivotal time in kids' lives. ...To be in a position to impact them in that time is important to me.
I'm sure Romar is more than ready to coach Wroten on and off the court. There is not a coach in America that is more prepared for the job. I'm not saying Romar will completely change Wroten's life, but as long as Wroten is a Husky, he'll at least have one voice in his ear telling him the right things.
A coach can only do so much, and Romar will do his best to send the right message to Wroten.
If Wroten isn't passing his classes, he won't play. If Wroten's twitter is out of control, he won't play. Get the picture?
Hopefully Wroten will.