From Jan. 10, when the University of Washington confirmed that one of its student-athletes was under police investigation, until March 8, when Venoy Overton was suspended, the Huskies went 8-7.
Over the three games while Overton was suspended, the Huskies swept their way to the Pacific-10 Conference tournament championship.
The suspension now behind him, Overton will return to action Friday, when the seventh-seeded Huskies open NCAA tournament play against 10th-seeded Georgia at Charlotte, N.C. And the Huskies say they will be a better team with him back in the fold.
“He’s a guy that plays with energy,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s one of those guys where it’s hard to get somebody on the scout team to simulate what he does on the floor. He’s somebody who has played – this is his third NCAA tournament, and he has contributed in the other (tournaments) that we have been a part of – so he can do nothing but help.”
Overton’s troubles started in early January when the Seattle Police Department began investigating him in connection with an alleged crime for which he ultimately was not charged.
The school also announced no public discipline of Overton at the time.
However, on March 8, when the Seattle city attorney charged Overton with the misdemeanor offense of providing alcohol to a minor, Romar announced that Overton would not play in the Pac-10 tournament, but that he would return if the Huskies made it to the postseason.
With that punishment behind him, Overton said he is eager to rejoin his teammates and to be able to conclude his college career in this NCAA tournament.
“Man, I’m very appreciative,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and do my hardest and do whatever I can to help my team win.”
And while Overton’s playing status has been restored, he knows that the damage to his reputation will linger.
“Some people in the media was saying stuff that wasn’t accurate,” he said. “It was very serious, but people didn’t really know what they was talking about. It was hard. I felt like all that being said was kind of a bigger punishment than sitting out, just from that fact that (Seattle) is my hometown and you don’t want that reputation, to be known for that.”
Junior guard Isaiah Thomas of Tacoma, the outstanding player of the Pac-10 tournament, admitted that adding even a capable player to a rotation that’s working can be disruptive.
However, he said he believes Overton is such an established part of the team that that won’t be the case in Charlotte.
“We’ve been with Venoy, he said. “This is my third year with him. It’s not like we traded for somebody and he doesn’t know the system. He’s going to fit in just like he did all season.”
Overton has appeared in 29 games this season. Best known as a defensive specialist, he has averaged six points and 3.4 assists.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports