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8. Washington Mixing a sweet-shooting center with a sugar-shunning guard, the Huskies are anticipating a honey of a season

Fifth-year senior center Todd MacCulloch doesn't stand out among
his Huskies teammates simply because he's 7-foot. On a squad that
includes four sons of former Seattle SuperSonics, he may be the
one player whose childhood was not filled with visions of an NBA
career. When you grow up in Winnipeg, there are other things to
dream about, like hockey and moving to a warmer place. But if the
NBA wasn't in MacCulloch's past, it's almost certainly in his

After arriving in Seattle four years ago so out of shape he
couldn't bench-press 65 pounds, MacCulloch has firmed up his
body and his game to the point that he's led the nation in field
goal percentage for the last two years. (Only Ohio State's Jerry
Lucas has done that in three straight seasons, from 1959-60 to
'61-62.) Furthermore, MacCulloch's averages of 21.7 points and
12 rebounds in three NCAA tournament games last year were a big
reason the Huskies went from a bubble team to within a point of
making the Elite Eight, losing 75-74 to UConn. "I didn't know if
he would pan out when he got here," says senior guard Donald
Watts of MacCulloch, who now bench-presses 240 pounds. "But now
he looks like he wants to go places."

The same can be said of Watts. The 1995 Washington schoolboy
player of the year and son of former Sonics star Slick Watts
struggled his first two seasons with fatigue and unspectacular
play. His mother suspected those conditions were related to a
diet that included several candy bars and quarts of Gatorade a
day, which he chased with a box or two of Hot Tamales candies
before bed. After consulting a naturopath, Watts spent his
Christmas break last season eating figs and battling sugar
withdrawal. "It was like getting off a drug," says Watts. "I was
shaking. But after three days I bounced right back." His points
per game bounced ahead too, from 13.0 to 16.9.

Along with the touch of MacCulloch, the penetration of Watts and
the long-range bombing of junior swingman Deon Luton (75 threes
last year), Washington is counting on greater depth, much of
which springs from some impressive gene pools. The Huskies'
three other scions of former Sonics are Lonnie Shelton's son
Marlon, a raw 6'9", 265-pound freshman center with a 7'4"
wingspan; Downtown Freddie Brown's son Bryan, a 6'3" sophomore
guard; and Paul Westphal's son, Michael, a 6'2" walk-on this
year. None of the three are likely to see as much time as Greg
Clark, brother of Detroit Tigers first baseman Tony Clark, who
is a redshirt sophomore competing for the power forward spot
with sophomore Thalo Green, an art major who is named after a
paint color.

As for MacCulloch, he doesn't care what color paint he steps
into at the end of this season, as long as it says NCAA on it.
"It was great finally going to the four-letter tournament
instead of the three-letter one," says MacCulloch, who ended his
first two seasons in the NIT. "We want to go back."


COLOR PHOTO: LOU CAPOZZOLA GIANT STEPS The 7-foot MacCulloch, once a weakling, is now the most efficient center in the land. [Todd MacCulloch]



SF [*]Deon Luton 6'4" Jr. 15.4 ppg
PF Thalo Green 6'6" So. 53.6 FG%
C [*]Todd MacCulloch 7'0" Sr. 18.6 ppg
SG [*]Donald Watts 6'4" Sr. 16.9 ppg
PG Dan Dickau 6'1" So. 3.8 ppg

'97-98 record: 20-10 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 24
[*]Returning starter