When a new coach takes over a program, there is an inherent clash between himself and the players he inherits, whom he did not recruit. Perhaps never has that been more apparent than with James Dickey, who just finished his first year at the helm of the Houston Cougar basketball program.
A number of players found themselves in Dickey's doghouse from time to time this season - with the exception of the now-departed Trumaine Johnson, all were holdovers from the previous staff. On Thursday, sophomores Kendrick Washington and Nick Haywood were released from their scholarships, according to Sam Khan.
With the losses, the Cougars will return just four scholarship players with Division 1 experience to next year's squad - sophomore forwards Alandise Harris and Mikhail McLean, senior guard Darian Thibodeaux and junior forward Kirk Van Slyke. Freshman guard Joe Young, who was forced to sit out this season due to an NLI dispute, is expected to be a key contributor, as well. In just his second year as head coach, Dickey will only have one player (Van Slyke) on his team who he did not recruit.
Both Haywood and Washington came to UH from Louisiana in the same class after winning the last two state 5-A player of the year awards. Haywood struggled to find ways to contribute, even when he finally started getting playing time towards the end of the season. Washington's two-year career was hobbled by injuries and Dickey-mandated suspensions, but Cougar fans will miss his big body inside. His size and strength could make him dominant on occasion, and made fans wonder what he could end up accomplishing with a little bit more seasoning. Washington averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds this year in under 21 minutes per game.