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Coach Hopkins Finally Gets His 2018 Big Man Commitment

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The Huskies Reel in East Coast Forward Nate Roberts

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies received a commitment today from Class of 2018 PF/C Nate Roberts today. Roberts becomes the 4th recruit in the 2018 class to pledge their skills to new head coach Mike Hopkins. Nate is listed as a 4 star prospect by ESPN but a 3 star player according to Scout, Rivals, and 247Sports. The Maryland native currently plays for Brewster Academy in Massachusetts and his commitment has been somewhat of a winding road.

Syracuse was viewed as the favorite for Roberts as a SF in March before Coach Hop, his primary recruiter there, left for Washington. The Orange’s interest in Roberts cooled for a while before it became clear that he had experienced a growth spurt and was now a viable option at center. There hasn’t been an official listing of Nate’s height but he appears to be 6’10 now. That is up from 6’7 at this time last year.

EDIT 10/18: Roberts told Scout last night that he is now 6’11.5 and 220 pounds. That makes him a legitimate center rather than a power forward who can play center in a smaller lineup.

Cuse seemingly prioritized C Dimon Carrigan (who Washington also pursued) for a while but eventually made Roberts a priority once again. Roberts named his Final 3 in September of UW, Syracuse, and Nebraska while trimming Wake Forest and Connecticut from his Final 5. This is a major win for Hopkins that he was able to persuade an East Coast recruit to come to Seattle over heavy interest from his former program. It’s a clear sign that the allure of Syracuse is not necessary for his sales pitch.

In his statement, Roberts had this to say about Washington: “Coach (Mike) Hop (Hopkins) and I have a great relationship and he has been a believer in me as a player and person since my recruiting has taken off and now that he’s the captain of the ship, it makes things a lot better when the head coach is on your side. The city was beautiful, the campus was really nice, and the people I met treated me like I’ve known them for years. It was a really good experience being the first time going over there.”

This likely closes out the 2018 class for the Huskies. Getting at least one big man was critical given the paucity of bodies currently on the roster and Roberts appears to be that guy. While we don’t have exact height and weight numbers at the moment, Roberts is another indication of Coach Hop’s emphasis on length and athleticism as his most valued attributes.

Many, including myself, will be disappointed to see that this likely means that Bryan Penn-Johnson won’t be coming to Montlake. The 7’0 center from Nevada has been close to priority #1 for the coaching staff since April but it looks like their paths have diverged. BPJ has taken official visits to UCLA and DePaul and announced that he had changed his commitment timeline from December 2017 to Spring 2018. With how important Center is for this class it would’ve been a tough sell for Hopkins to wait until April to find out whether they had their guy and risk being left holding the bag. However, I’d expect Hopkins to continue recruiting him just in case something falls through or an unexpected player decides to transfer.

Here are some highlights of Roberts although they are from before his most recent growth spurt (you can see him going against Markelle Fultz back at DeMatha Catholic several times).

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