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NCAAM: Gaddy chats with ‘my favorite coach’

January 12, 2010

Minutes after enduring the harshest fan treatment of his basketball career, Abdul Gaddy walked out of the Washington Huskies locker room to talk to the coach for whom he always wanted to play.

Lute Olson chatted with the freshman guard for a few minutes, wishing him well after the 87-70 shellacking by the Wildcats.

“My favorite coach I ever watched in college basketball,” he said after walking away from the UA legend. “I was hoping to play for him, but I didn’t get the opportunity. It was great seeing him.”

It was Gaddy’s first positive interaction with an Arizona fan all day — although he did finish with a career-high 13 points.

The Tacoma, Wash., high schooler committed to play for the UA in August 2007, and stayed committed during the season, despite Olson’s taking a leave of absence and being replaced by Kevin O’Neill. He decommitted in May 2008 after Olson returned and changed assistants, but committed again in September 2008.

Five days after Olson’s retirement in October 2008, however, Gaddy announced he wouldn’t play for the Wildcats after all.

UA fans remembered Sunday.

When Gaddy was introduced before the game, he was greeted by a cacophony of boos.

“I think it put a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I need to come out and play with my heart, really play hard.”

Every time he touched the ball the rest of the game, even late in the second half when the Wildcats were coasting to victory, Gaddy was booed. That never happened in high school, he said.

“I think the crowd respects me, and they’re trying to help the team out by trying to get in my head,” he said.

They didn’t. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, adding one rebound, one assist and three turnovers. UA coach Sean Miller said Gaddy “is going to be a terrific guard in our league,” and squirmed a bit when asked about the fan reaction.

“Our fans love the game, love the Wildcats and certainly appreciate what a good young player he is,” Miller said.

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said the 6-foot-3-inch guard is improving after averaging 3.7 points per game this year.

I thought that would have come a couple games ago,” he said. “That could have come at any point, and that’s why he’s a starter. We know what he’s capable of.”

Gaddy said it was surreal playing at McKale Center, where he once thought he would spend his college career.

My teammates always say, ‘You coulda been playing here,’ ” he said. “It’s a fun environment, a great environment.

That‘s part of the reason why I wanted to come here. I think about it a lot.”

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