4-star guard Jaylen Nowell from Garfield High School announced today that he will stick with his letter of intent and play basketball next year at the University of Washington. Nowell originally committed to the University of Washington in June of 2016 under coach Lorenzo Romar. It was announced this weekend that Romar is joining Sean Miller’s staff at Arizona as an assistant coach but that wasn’t enough to dissuade Nowell from staying home. The 6’5 Nowell is rated the #56 recruit by ESPN, #71 by Rivals, and #82 by Scout. Prior to his initial commitment, Nowell had offers from Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and Seattle U but the latest decision reportedly came down to UW, Arizona, and Cal.
Of the 5 members of the recruiting class under Romar, Nowell seemed the most likely to stick with his commitment. He was the 1st continuous recruit in the 2017 class (Daejon Davis committed first but then de-committed before re-committing then de-committing again after Romar was let go before ending up at Stanford. Yes, there will be a quiz later). The allure of playing at home seemed to be much stronger for Nowell than it did for Davis and that was in fact the case.
The Huskies now have at least 3 guards coming in next year with the LOI signings of Michael Carter III and Nate Pryor last week. Nowell has the potential to fulfill the same role that Budda Baker did for Chris Peterson in his 1st recruiting class. Hopkins can point to this as a signal that highly sought after players believe in the message that he’s sharing with them and want to stay and play for their city with or without Coach Romar. The presence of both Will Conroy and Cameron Dollar on the staff appears to be paying at least short term dividends in keeping local talent home. Coach Dollar in particular had a relationship with Nowell, as Jaylen’s father Mike coached under Dollar at Seattle U for a year before passing away in 2015.
Nowell’s decision is a big sigh of relief for the program. Coaching makes a big difference in college basketball but it’s incredibly rare to reach the heights that many Husky fans long to reach without several players of Nowell’s ability. Only one team (2016 Oklahoma) in the past 6 seasons has made the Final-4 without at least one consensus top-100 recruit (both ESPN and Scout). The average team in that span had 5 such players. Currently, only one player on UW’s roster meets that definition (Noah Dickerson) and there is still the possibility that he decides to transfer.
With the guards seemingly figured out, the focus for Coach Hopkins now shifts to finding big men whether as incoming freshmen or graduate transfers to round out next year’s roster. We’ll get more into how he fits with the rest of the roster later but for now, this is an occasion to celebrate. Don’t worry, I checked with Chris Landon and he says it’s ok. Check out some of Jaylen Nowell’s highlights below.