Andrew Andrews recalls a conversation with Washington Huskies assistant coach Will Conroy, back in the summer, in which Conroy asked the UW senior to list his goals for the upcoming season.
“I’ll probably average 15 points,” Andrews replied. Maybe five assists per game, too, he said, and an improvement over the 4.7 rebounds he averaged as a junior in 2014-15.
Conroy scoffed at that, Andrews said, and “told me that I was crazy to think I was only going to average 15 points.”
So, too, did his friends back home in Portland, who told him “you need to average 20.”
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“I was like, man, do you know if I average 20, that would mean … Joseph Young averaged 20 last year. Chasson Randle averaged 20,” Andrews said Tuesday, a day ahead of UW’s 8 p.m. Wednesday game against Washington State, the final home game of Andrews’ collegiate career.
“That was the furthest thing from my mind, being the Pac-12’s leading scorer. I never would have thought of it. But it just kind of happened.”
Yes, it did. With only one regular-season game remaining, Andrews is averaging 20.3 points per game. That’s the top scoring average in the conference, 2.7 points per game better than Utah center Jakob Poeltl, who ranks second at 17.6. In other words, unless Poeltl morphs into Steph Curry and averages about 30 points per game while leading his team to the national championship, Andrews is going to finish this season as the Pac-12 scoring champion.
He also ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in assists at 4.8 per game, is 18th in rebounding (5.8) and leads in free-throw percentage (84.0). His putback basket gave UW its final lead in a comeback win over USC. His free throws iced an overtime win at WSU. His free throws iced a four-point win at Arizona State. His free throws lifted UW to a two-point win at UCLA. He scored 30 points or more in six games this season, won two conference player of the week awards and played through a sprained ankle and strained medial collateral ligament in his knee.
His play has exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic observers. No player under UW coach Lorenzo Romar has ever averaged that many points, assists and rebounds in the same season. It’s a fine way for Andrews to cap an up-and-down career that featured steady improvement each season, but also some criticism regarding his out-of-control style at times and inconsistent shooting.
And yet, barring some kind of miracle in next week’s Pac-12 tournament, this season — and Andrews’ career — will end for the Huskies without an NCAA tournament appearance.
His legacy is muddied somewhat by that fact, despite the production and leadership he provided this season on a team that starts four freshmen and has only one other upperclassman.
So Romar hopes Andrews is remembered for his perseverance. For staying at UW for his fifth-year senior season when he could have transferred. For choosing UW in the first place, and for being willing to attend prep school for a year, even though he ultimately didn’t have to because Isaiah Thomas left early for the NBA and opened up a roster spot.
“He was loyal coming in,” Romar said, “and loyal on his way out.”
And as the only senior on UW’s roster this season, Andrews helped the Huskies’ freshmen adapt to the rigors of college basketball.
“He’s gone into this whole season knowing everything we’re going to be doing, and even though we’re all still learning, there really wasn’t times where he was impatient or rolling his eyes, annoyed with the fact we hadn’t caught on yet,” said freshman guard Matisse Thybulle.
“If anything, he was more helpful. … It’s one thing for a coach to be telling you to do this, but for him to take you on the side and say, ‘Hey, when you drive this way, you know how the defense is going to help,’ and just give it to you from a player’s perspective, is probably one of the best things he’s been able to give me.”
Andrews said he hasn’t reflected much on his career, which began with a redshirt season in 2011-12 and will end this month. He’s focused now on Washington State, which enters Wednesday’s contest on a 15-game losing streak.
He isn’t sure how emotional he might be when he’s introduced prior to the game. He’s never been the most expressive guy, and perhaps it’s that even keel that helped him make it through some of UW’s leaner years.
“Growing up, I learned real young that everything happens for a reason,” Andrews said. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad. There’s going to be good times and bad times in life. You’ve just got to kind of roll with the punches and not quit on them. For me, loyalty is huge, and that’s something I pride myself on.”
As for his legacy?
“Everyone cares to a certain extent how they’re viewed and everything,” he said. “If the only thing I was viewed for was just being loyal, that would be perfectly fine with me. I could take that.”
Washington State (9-20, 1-16 Pac-12) at Washington (16-13, 8-9)
8 p.m., Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV: ESPNU. Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7-FM.
All-time series: Washington leads, 180-102.
Statistics for 2015-16:
2 Ike Iroegbu, G (6-2, jr.): 12.8 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.4 rpg.
23 Charles Callison, G (6-0, jr.): 8.1 ppg, 3.0 apg.
32 Que Johnson, G (6-5, jr.): 11.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg.
24 Josh Hawkinson, F (6-10, jr.): 15.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg.
45 Valentine Izundu, F (6-10, jr.): 4.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg.
12 Andrew Andrews, G (6-2, sr.): 20.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.8 apg.
5 Dejounte Murray, G (6-4.5, fr.): 15.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.3 apg.
4 Matisse Thybulle, G (6-5, fr.): 6.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg.
10 Malik Dime, F (6-9, jr.): 6.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg.
0 Marquese Chriss, F (6-9, fr.): 13.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg.
Scouting report: Washington State badly needs this season to end. Since defeating UCLA on the first weekend of conference play, the Cougars have lost 15 consecutive games, 12 of them by double-digits, and the last five by at least 14 points each. … The closest WSU has come to winning during that span was against UW Jan. 9 in Pullman, when the Huskies pulled out a 99-95 overtime victory. … The Cougars have not won a road game this season, and have won only one game outside of Pullman. … Still, WSU has some players who can give UW problems, particularly Hawkinson, the Pac-12’s leading rebounder. He had 21 points and 20 rebounds in the first meeting between these teams, and is exactly the kind of player who can exploit the Huskies’ weakness on the defensive glass. Iroegbu led WSU with 28 points against UW the first time around, and Callison had 14. … WSU has the second-worst field-goal percentage defense in the Pac-12, are ranked last in rebounding offense, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and offensive rebound percentage. … The Cougars do shoot 45.9 percent from the field as a team, which ranks fifth in the conference, and they make 35.0 percent of their 3-point attempts, good for eighth in the Pac-12. … Both of those figures rank well ahead of the Huskies, who have the Pac-12’s second-worst field-goal percentage and are last in 3-point percentage.