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UW Basketball Recruiting Update: 5-Star Isaiah Stewart Set to Announce on Sunday

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The Huskies are potentially 2 days away from a massive addition

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

DECISION TIME

Isaiah Stewart, C, 6’9, 245. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Indiana.

247: 5 stars, #8 overall; Rivals: 5 stars, #6 overall; ESPN: 5 stars, #5 overall.

Other Offers: Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State, Kentucky.

Top UW target and 5-star big man Isaiah Stewart will be announcing his college commitment this Sunday at halftime of the 4:30p PT game on ESPN during the Hoophall classic. Washington is in Stewart’s final five alongside the teams listed in the other offers section above.

Here’s what I wrote about the Husky recruitment of Isaiah Stewart back in July when Washington cracked Stewart’s initial top-10 list:

“Stewart trimmed his list down to 10 last month and the Huskies were the only West Coast school that made the cut. Hopkins was the lead recruiter for Stewart when he was still at Syracuse and Stewart played AAU with current Husky Nahziah Carter. That concludes the list of reasons why Washington has any shot whatsoever. It appears that in the next month or so that Stewart will reduce his list to 5 and the expectation is that Washington will not appear on that trimmed list...It’s pretty much impossible to imagine Hop’s relationship with Stewart being so strong that he winds up in Seattle. Which means it may not actually be the worst if he drops them sooner rather than later if Hop uses resources that could otherwise be spent going after the local players (time is a resource in recruiting, I don’t mean dropping bags).”

Whoops.

It looks like I was incredibly wrong with that take. And I couldn’t be happier about it. The Huskies are the clear favorite entering Sunday’s announcement and have all of the momentum. 9 of the last 10 247 crystal balls that have been put in for Stewart over the last 10 days are in Washington’s favor including Director of Basketball Recruiting Evan Daniels who is at 96.7% for this year and the #1 ranked predictor.

I also wrote in the fall that the only way in which Washington could be a logical choice was if the most important thing for Stewart is his relationship with his head coach. And he has said repeatedly that his decision will be about comfort and relationships which is why Coach Hop appears poised to pull off the massive upset.

This is the point where I’m going to remind everyone that despite the recent FBI investigation theoretically improving things, 5-star college basketball recruiting is still a very ugly world. Everyone remembers the Terrence Jones fiasco. Even if Stewart picks up a UW hat on Sunday the battle isn’t completely over. This is me trying to save you future heartbreak by lowering expectations.

But Washington is in a very good spot entering this weekend. I’ll have more about Stewart’s potential impact on the roster if he announces for UW on Sunday. But part of the reason that he may be a better fit than the average 5-star player is that he doesn’t play like a guy who has been handed everything on a silver platter. Every scouting service notes that Stewart doesn’t take plays off and that he’s almost always the hardest working player on the court. That is a perfect match with Coach Hop’s “Tougher Together” mantra and his personality as the scrappy junkyard dog from his playing days at Syracuse.

Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, 6’11, 185. Federal Way HS, Federal Way, Washington.

247: 5 stars, #4 overall; Rivals: 5 stars, #5 overall; ESPN: 5 stars, #6 overall.

Other Offers: Kentucky, Texas, San Diego State, UCLA

The excitement over the prospect of adding Isaiah Stewart to the current recruiting class has led everyone to speculate on how a Stewart commitment might impact the recruitment of Jaden McDaniels. No one but Jaden knows but it’s hard to imagine that bringing in a stud like Stewart who plays a different position than McDaniels would hurt Washington’s chances.

However, it will likely still be another several months before we find out. McDaniels is notoriously silent about his recruitment but his camp has shared that the plan is to wait until Federal Way’s season is over before sitting down and making a decision. The sense in the recruiting industry is that this will ultimately come down to a battle between Washington and Kentucky but a lot could happen in the next 2 months.

SCHOLARSHIP SITUATION

A quick reminder of Washington’s scholarship situation for the future. Washington has 4 seniors set to graduate (Dickerson, Thybulle, Crisp, and Green) plus one scholarship that they held open going into this year. That makes 5 openings for the class of 2019. SG/SF RaeQuan Battle and PG/SG Marcus Tsohonis already signed their LOIs during the fall period so that leaves 3 spots. PG Quade Green recently transferred in from Kentucky and will be on scholarship starting next season. That leaves 2 spots.

The only two players still under real consideration (that we know of) in the class of 2019 are Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. If both sign then Washington would have every scholarship spoken for. If UW only gets one of them then they would likely keep that spot open for the following season rather than reach on a lower level guy still available.

The wild card of course is the status of Jaylen Nowell. If he were to declare for the NBA Draft it would open up one additional spot. The Huskies are bringing in 2 ball handlers plus a shooting wing player with 3 of their spots for 2019 so while it would certainly hurt the team from a talent standpoint, I don’t expect a potential Nowell departure to cause Hop to extend late offers to guards to compensate. As of right now the mock drafts aren’t showing Nowell much love but he will almost certainly at least declare without signing an agent and see what feedback he gets.

For the class of 2020 there are a ton of variables that influence how many spots will be available. Sam Timmins will graduate after next season so that’s one spot. Whether it is this year or next year I feel pretty certain Nowell won’t be a full 4-year player so that’s another possible opening. Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels are both projected NBA lottery picks making them one-and-done candidates. Whether they end up signing with Washington or the Huskies keep the scholarship open it likely doesn’t make much difference for 2020 since they probably wouldn’t be on the roster by then either way. If all of that came true it would give UW 4 scholarships. The last variable is that Coach Hopkins said when Riley Sorn signed on as a PWO that he would get a scholarship after 2 seasons if he wanted to stay with the team. However, if he does stay I feel it likely that someone else would transfer out. So my best guess is that UW is recruiting for 4 spots but we won’t know that for sure for quite a while.

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