Today marks the beginning of the Fall Signing Period in college basketball. Players are able to sign National Letters of Intent with schools for the next week (11/14-11/21) and then will be prohibited from doing so again until April 17th.
This recruiting cycle is a huge one for the Washington program. The Huskies have 4 scholarship seniors set to graduate (Noah Dickerson, Matisse Thybulle, David Crisp, and Dominic Green) that will each open up a spot. Additionally, Washington did not fill the spot after Bitumba Baruti transferred last spring. That means the Huskies could sign up to 5 players in this class if they wanted to without any other further attrition. And it isn’t a stretch to think that Jaylen Nowell could declare for the NBA Draft opening up a 6th spot.
Current Verbal Commits
Washington currently has a pair of verbal commitments and both are expected to sign their NLIs at some point this week.
6’4 SG RaeQuan Battle out of Marysville-Pilchuck High School is a shooter with plus athleticism who looks to be in the mold of ex-Husky C.J Wilcox. He is the 83rd ranked player in 247’s composite rankings after being a largely unknown quantity before the start of this year’s Nike EYBL season. Battle averaged 11 points per game for Seattle Rotary and shot 33.8% from deep with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. It’s easy to imagine him taking over Dominic Green’s current role on the team fairly quickly.
Edit: 11/14. 9:40 am
It appears that RaeQuan Battle has officially signed his NLI and is now a Washington Husky. The UW hasn’t released anything yet so either he didn’t fax it in right away or they’re waiting for Marcus as well before welcoming the both of them.
6’3 Marcus Tsohonis out of Jefferson High in Portland is a combo guard that also played on Seattle Rotary over the summer. He averaged 12.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 30.5% from deep and 72.3% from the FT line. Tsohonis is rated as the #285 player nationally per 247’s composite rankings and the top player in the state of Oregon.
Liked what I’ve seen from Seattle Rotary guard Marcus Tsohonis today. Good size, has made shots today, can initiate offense. Has played well down the stretch with Jaden McDaniels on the bench. #PeachJam— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 12, 2018
Edit: 11/14, 8:30a
It appears that Tsohonis will be signing this afternoon after he finishes classes for the day.
The start of the early signing period is Wednesday, and the top ranked player in the Class of 2019, @MmayesTsohonis, will be signing his LOI with Washington at Jefferson High School at 3:30 pm.— Prep Hoops Oregon (@PrepHoopsOR) November 14, 2018
There are two primary targets that Washington is still in the hunt for and landing either would be a titanic win for Coach Hopkins and the rest of the staff. The first is 6’9 center Isaiah Stewart who is the #5 recruit in the country per 247’s composite rankings and a consensus 5 star player.
Stewart is from Rochester, New York and so formed an early relationship with Mike Hopkins from his time at Syracuse. Hop was one of if not the first college coach to start recruiting Stewart and so their bond is deep and Stewart appears to really value that relationship as a primary factor in his recruitment. He also played AAU ball with current Husky Naz Carter so he has a friend already on the team.
Isaiah could sign anywhere in the country and at this point he appears to be down to a final 3 of Duke, Michigan State, and Washington. An official visit to Duke was postponed and it seems like he’ll listen to one last pitch from Coach K before making a commitment. Expect a verbal somewhere from Stewart in the next month but no signature until the Spring Period.
If Washington were able to land Stewart it would give them an immediate replacement for Noah Dickerson as he’s viewed as the most college-ready big man in the class. Stewart averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game in the EYBL this summer. He would be the highest rated big man prospect Washington has signed since Spencer Hawes who was the 4th ranked prospect in 2006 behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant (...and Brendan Wright).
Edit: 11/14, 12:15 pm
Corey Evans at Rivals spoke to Isaiah Stewart this morning and he confirmed that he won’t be signing this week but that a decision will come some time after he’s able to take his last official to Duke which isn’t scheduled yet. He re-emphasized that Washington is heavily in the mix as his relationship with Hop stretches back 4+ years and he really enjoyed his official visit to Seattle.
The second 5 star fish the Huskies are pursuing is Federal Way’s 6’10 combo forward Jaden McDaniels. Jaden had one of the biggest leaps for a recruiting prospect in recent memory as he went from a fringe top-100 player in March to in contention for the #1 overall player in the class by August.
The McDaniels family is unorthodox in their approach to recruitment and his father has said he serves as the gatekeeper for coach and media requests. That means we rarely get updates on the state of his recruitment. The general consensus was that he would take his sweet time making a decision but a few months ago he out of nowhere released a Final 5 of: Washington, San Diego State, UCLA, Texas, and Kentucky. He then started taking official visits and has been to each of those schools except UCLA.
Many people tend to think it will come down to UW and San Diego State (where his brother Jalen plays) with Kentucky as the looming wild card. But the recruiting experts all say they don’t have a great feel because they’ve had so much less direct contact with Jaden than with a normal 5 star recruit. It’s theoretically possible that McDaniels could make that UCLA visit this weekend and sign somewhere this week but it’s much more likely that he holds off until the Spring Period with a verbal commitment happening without warning at any time.
McDaniels averaged 18.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game on the EYBL circuit while shooting 29.4% from 3-point range and 70.8% from the FT line. He has elite guard skills in the body of a stretch 4 and is capable of doing absolutely everything on a basketball court. His supreme length and versatility would allow him to thrive in the Washington zone.
Edit: 11/14, 10:30 am
McDaniels is in fact taking his official visit to UCLA this weekend. That means the door is open for him to make a decision early next week and sign in the early period. Still very unlikely but now possible.
How It Fits Together
Those of you who can do math are probably thinking, wait a second. We have at least 5 spots (and maybe a 6th), have 2 verbal commitments, and have only 2 more recruits we’re chasing. 2+2 does not equal 5 and it certainly doesn’t equal 6. That is correct. While it’s nice to have the requisite depth that filling up all 13 spots provides, it isn’t crazy to go into a season with 11 scholarship players. Syracuse routinely went with just 7 and 8 man rotations while Hop was there and he has shown a willingness to emulate that model early in his UW career.
But the situation either underlines Hop’s supreme confidence or the riskiness of his recruiting strategy. UW fans will, unfortunately, remember the class of 2013 when the Huskies finished on the outside looking in for #3 Aaron Gordon and #4 Jabari Parker without a clear Plan B. It is absolutely possible that something similar happens to Washington in 2019 should the Huskies strike out on both McDaniels and Stewart.
The one positive of the current scholarship situation is it gives the Huskies flexibility with regards to transfers and reclassifications. Grad transfers are just about impossible at UW but the staff would easily be able to accommodate some good old-fashioned run of the mill transfers. They also might be able to find players like Hameir Wright and Naz Carter who reclassify in June when fewer programs have open spots.
And the thing to remember is the 2020 class has been the target for this staff since day one. Washington has a legitimate shot with 6 top-200 players and Hop appears to be willing to keep some of his scholarship powder dry to go all out with that group. That’s why landing one and dones like McDaniels and Stewart in this class would be so huge. You get elite production for 2019 and then still will have the scholarship available for that class of 2020.
We’ll provide updates above with the official announcements once anyone officially signs with Washington or if there is news with regards to any other UW targets. You can also follow me @UWDP_maxvroom for all your UW Men’s Basketball recruiting news and notes.