Team Washington a result of deep Pacific Northwest hoops culture

 

By: Dylan Woods


Seattle may be the most underrated basketball city in America

Tony Wroten had been getting asked for years about entering a University of Washington team in TBT. Ever since the tournament started in 2014, he would be bombarded on social media by fans asking about a roster featuring Wroten and other beloved Huskies from years past.

Now, after summers of watching countless other alumni teams compete, he decided 2020 was the time to get the ball rolling. 

“Our basketball culture is so strong out here that it [was] shocking to us that we still [did] not have a team,” said Wroten.

The seed was planted. Next step: who is going to run this thing?

Wroten asked Huskies legend and longtime overseas pro Tre Simmons to coach and serve as GM for Team Washington while he signed up to be a player. 

At 27, Wroten doesn’t have too much tread on his tires and still has some prime years left. Simmons, recently retired from professional basketball and now 15 years removed from his last college game at Washington, was the perfect candidate.

Team Washington coach Tre Simmons

The former All-Pac-10 guard and Seattle native got right to work on building the team, and he was met with similar enthusiasm from the former Huskies that Wroten witnessed with the fans. 

“Everybody was on board right away,” said Simmons. “And everybody is willing to sacrifice.”

Players started agreeing left and right, and before he knew it Simmons had a roster deeper than the Duwamish River.

He recruited Wroten’s former teammate Andrew Andrews to solidify the backcourt. Robert Upshaw, Malik Dime, and 2019 graduate Noah Dickerson also signed on to patrol the paint. And to round out the roster are former NBA players Justin Dentmon, Ricky Ledo, Josh Selby, and Bobby Jones.

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Aside from the experience and raw talent, Team Washington has something intangible tilting the scales in their favor, too.

There could just be something in that Puget Sound pond water, but a unique element of basketball exists in the Pacific Northwest. The area features a certain ingredient in its players, some strand of DNA that makes hooping special to those that are a part of its culture. 

“Players from Seattle have a brotherhood,” said Simmons. “We all stick together rather than some other cities or states where they have basketball players scattered out [and] hating on each other.”

And it doesn’t hurt that they have some of the best support in the nation. Opponents dread coming into the Richter scale that is CenturyLink Field to play the Seahawks or Sounders, as well as the UW campus for a road game against Washington.

“We love the game so much that [Seattle] wants to see us win no matter what type of game it is,” said Wroten.

Team Washington hopes to mine some of that special sauce for its own benefit at TBT. Simmons, Andrews, and Wroten are all from the area, in addition to almost everybody on the roster having attended the University of Washington.

The brotherhood can also be seen all the way up into the NBA ranks, where guys like Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, and Isaiah Thomas have remained close despite traveling all over the country for different teams. 

Countless other pro players have come out of the Seattle area as well, and would probably tell you the same thing about the community feeling and tightness.

And on the subject of pro players, Team Washington stirred the pot recently when their Twitter account started a rumor of potential NBA infusion as a late addition to the roster.

 

As of last week, Simmons said that neither Spencer Hawes nor Jamal Crawford will be playing. 

However, Simmons said it is a "possibility" that Nate Robinson, a current summer ball free agent, could be back in Husky colors. If it happens, the former slam dunk champion and NBA veteran would certainly bring a high level energy to the group.

Still, even with the roster as it sits today, Team Washington is a true contender. Filled with some of the best talent that Seattle has seen in the 21st century, it’s time to get down to business come July.

“It’s going to get real spooky this summer,” said Wroten.