WSU Athletic Communications
With Reggie Moore no longer on the team, newcomer Royce Woolridge -- a transfer from Kansas -- will be leaned on heavily to help carry the load, both as a ball handler and scorer. Does he have the game to do it?
2010-2011 Stats (at Kansas)
Class: RS-Sophomore | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 175 | Major: Undeclared
For a guy who's going to be counted on to do a lot this year, we sure don't know a heck of a lot about Woolridge. Here's what we do know.
Woolridge was rated a three-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals, and rated four stars by ESPN. Those ratings didn't matter a whole lot, though, as he committed to Kansas as a sophomore and never even took any other official trips. At Phoenix's Sunnyslope High School, Woolridge was known for his prolific ability to score from all over the floor. However, when he arrived at Kansas, he found himself behind a glut of guards - guys such as Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor and fellow freshman Josh Selby. No shame in that, but with Taylor and Selby set to return, and with sophomore Elijah Johnson also already ahead of him, and with two more four-star guards coming in ... Woolridge, like a lot of players, decided it might be better to look around for a place where he's going to get more playing time.
That place was WSU. And after a year of sitting out because of the NCAA's transfer rules, Woolridge is set to finally make his debut with his new school. There were stories of Woolridge dominating practice last year, but that's not unusual. We heard similar things about Mike Ladd, so it's important to remember that it's not always a reliable predictor of what's going to take place on the floor the following year.
Woolridge will be attempting to play a combo guard-type role for the Cougars this year, assuming some of the ball handling duties that were vacated when Reggie Moore was dismissed from the team. But it would seem to be a mistake to consider him a playmaking point guard in the Moore mold -- Woolridge is a scorer, and that's likely to be his first instinct as a Cougar. The fact that he actually had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio over the Cougs' five exhibition games in Australia lends credence to the idea that setting up teammates just isn't his strength. That's not a knock on Woolridge, by the way. He is who he is, and asking him to be a lead guard, even part time, is outside his strengths. He's likely to struggle from time to time.
The hope is that Woolridge's strengths as a scorer and defender offset his deficiencies as a distributor, and that he's able to set up teammates just enough -- in conjunction with DaVonte Lacy's efforts to do the same -- to help the offense improve. But if you have really high hopes for Woolridge, it might be wise to temper your expectations a bit: Remember that he's only a sophomore who has played next to no competitive basketball in two years. It might take him some time to hit his stride.
His season will be successful if ...
I hesitate to put expectations for counting numbers on players, given my preference for rate-based stats, but this is a place where it seems appropriate. Woolridge is going to play heavy minutes, so averaging double-digit points with about three assists a game and a positive assist-to-turnover ratio would seem to be a success from an offensive perspective. From a defensive perspective, he will be a success if he's a clear upgrade over Moore. That shouldn't be difficult. Here's to hoping he's able to shake off the rust quickly.