With apologies to Quincy Pondexter boosters, Seattle University junior Charles Garcia is the best professional prospect in the city. A junior college transfer who was mysteriously declined admission into the University of Washington after Lorenzo Romar locked him up on the recruiting trail, Garcia fled to former Husky assistant Cameron Dollar's fledgling program a few miles south, and entered last night's tilt with Oakland (Mich.) University as the country's fifth-leading scorer at 25 points per game while displaying tremendous ballhandling abilities for a player of his size (6'10").
Garcia's rise has been so fast and furiuos that this shitty photo is about the best we could find.
Even absent Garcia, the Redhawks showed a tremendous amount of grit, staying in the game until the end despite employing a half-court offense in which 6'1" guard Chris Gweth was forced to call for the ball on the low block. The game drew maybe 2,000 people to the Key, roughly seven of whom looked to be actual Seattle University students (not including the tall men in shorts on the floor). While this may smack of an apathetic undergrad support base, I used to cover St. Louis University's squad before they got their own arena, and I can say that unless a school's arena is actually on campus, getting kids to schlep even a couple miles is a tall order.
That said, if Garcia returns for his senior year (and he really should, as his game is in need of some major refinement--he's Seattle U's answer to Jake Locker), interest is bound to grow. As it stands, however, the Redhawk experience is charmingly reminiscent the Will Ferrell ABA parody Semi-Pro. Certain members of the dance team are, to put it politely, extremely curvy. The mascot suit looks like it was acquired from a career alcoholic who stole it from the 1977 St. Louis Cardinals' locker room and wore it to every Mardi Gras ever since, and the individual donning the suit boasts all the energy of Jackie Gleason after his twelfth Double Dickel on the rocks. The lone male cheerleader claps out of rhythm, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Tatu from Fantasy Island. One of the guys pre-selected to shoot half-court shots during a break in the action had Down's Syndrome, and the other shooter didn't. The result of that contest was exactly what you'd expect it to be, with the Down's Syndrome guy's shots rarely clearing the free throw line, let alone threatening the rim.
And yet, there's something about watching Seattle U play that gives you the feeling that you're getting in on the ground floor of what could turn out to be a very hot stock. There's Garcia, for one--and hopefully for one more year. And then there's Dollar, his dad Donald (an SU assistant coach who was a high school coaching legend from Atlanta), and their balls' out style of play, reminiscent of Nolan Richardson's "40 Minutes of Hell" that launched Arkansas' program into prominence in the nineties.
It might be a little rough around the edges now, but it's certainly compelling. And there's nowhere to go but up.