In a move that can’t be viewed as a surprise, SG Jaylen Nowell announced tonight that he is declaring for the NBA Draft.
Under new NCAA rules a player can sign with an agent as long as they only pay for a limited list of things and still return to school. The deadline for doing so this year is May 29th so technically Nowell could go through the pre-draft process and decide to return to school for his junior season.
Coach Hopkins’ statement brings up this possibility so it sounds as if there’s still a chance of that happening. However, Nowell’s announcement sounds like a final decision. There is no mention of testing the waters or receiving feedback then making a choice. That sounds like someone who has already made up their mind. Spring quarter starts tomorrow so if Nowell does not attend classes it would be a clear sign that he is 100% committed to remaining in the draft.
Earlier this week we looked at the pros and cons of Jaylen leaving for the draft from his perspective. There are always going to be those that think he isn’t ready. Nowell has at best average athleticism and length from an NBA perspective and at 6’4 he is slightly undersized to play shooting guard. Nowell took on additional ball handling responsibilities but it’s tough to project him as a point guard. Unless he came back and was guaranteed to be the lone ball handler and suddenly averaged 6 assists there’s not much he could’ve done to address those concerns.
Because otherwise there’s not much to complain about from an on court production perspective. Nowell improved from 35% to 44% in his 3-pt shooting and showed the ability to knock down 3-pointers both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations. If he can be a 37%+ 3-pt shooter in the NBA then he’ll be able to contribute. Coming off a season when he was Pac-12 Player of the Year the only thing that could draw him back is if he thought there was a legitimate shot at UW being a final four or national championship contender. He ended his hometown school’s NCAA tournament drought and exceeded what anyone could’ve expected of him when he entered college.
This will be a very different Washington team next season. The Huskies led the country in minutes continuity this season. With their top-5 in terms of total minutes gone it will be once again one of the younger and least experienced teams in the conference. But with possibly up to three 5-star players coming into the program (PG Quade Green transferring from Kentucky, C Isaiah Stewart, and potentially F Jaden McDaniels) there will be plenty of raw talent. How quickly a young Husky team can gel and form an identity will be key to how much success the team has next season. Sam Timmins is the lone player initially recruited by Lorenzo Romar so we can now see what a team made entirely in Coach Hopkins’ image looks like.
Thank you again to Jaylen Nowell. He was part of a #1 ranked recruiting class that all committed to a coach rather than a school. Nothing wrong with that but Nowell stuck by his word and believed in Coach Hop’s vision. He worked his butt off and stepped in from day one as the guy unafraid to take the last shot and dragged the Huskies kicking and screaming to a semi-competent offense. He’ll be greatly missed and all of Husky Nation will support him wherever he ends up. Best of luck, Jaylen.
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