Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Regular (Spring) Signing Period for college men’s basketball. The period technically only goes through May 19th but in reality players can sign financial aid agreements later than that if they want. Especially players who decide to reclassify will continue signing throughout the summer. Hameir Wright and Naz Carter didn’t sign with the Huskies until June after Coach Hopkins first got the Washington gig.
There’s only one piece of news expected tomorrow although this could be the start of a very exciting and busy few weeks for Washington on the recruiting front.
Isaiah Stewart, PF, 6’9, 245. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Indiana.
247Sports: 5 star, #8 overall; Rivals: 5 star, #5 overall; ESPN: 5 star, #4 overall
The Huskies should receive a signed Letter of Intent from Isaiah Stewart sometime tomorrow morning. The 5-star big man made his verbal commitment to Coach Hopkins and the University of Washington back in January and there has never been a second of indecision on Stewart’s part since.
What are the Huskies getting in Stewart? An absolute man-child. Between the McDonald's All-American Game and GEICO Nationals I’ve gotten the chance to watch 5 of Stewart’s games over the last month almost always going against at least a high 4-star center. If Stewart’s freshman season began today he would immediately average a double double and likely over 15 points per game.
With a 7’4” wingspan to go along with a chiseled body and next level athleticism Stewart should be the best rebounder in the Pac-12 from day one if not the best in the country. He has an incredible motor and sprints back in transition every possession without tiring. His offensive game is much more nuanced than simply dunks and put backs. Stewart has worked very hard on his jump shot and now has a reliable face up game including the ability to knock down a midrange jumper if the opposing center plays off of him as well as an emerging 3-point shot. My guess is Coach Hopkins will want him around the basket as much as possible to take advantage of his rebounding but it wouldn’t shock me if Stewart winds up shooting 30-35% from deep on a couple of attempts per game.
There’s a chance that Stewart could see some playing time at the 4 spot alongside one of UW’s other centers for stretches to keep him from getting into foul trouble. But Stewart is already very adept at using his long arms without risking a foul. He may give up an extra basket or two over the course of a game by not being hyper-aggressive and going after every single block attempt. But that’s likely worth it in the long run to keep him on the court rather than piling up 3 dumb fouls for every spectacular block. Simply affecting the shot and then being in position to grab the rebound and prevent an easy put back because you didn’t leave your feet is often better than the occasional volleyball spike block (although he’ll have plenty of those too).
At a bare minimum I would expect that Stewart puts up a season similar to Noah Dickerson’s junior year, when he averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, except with better defense. When the final 2019 Class Rankings come out in the next few weeks I expect Stewart to move up a couple of spots in several of the rankings with a good chance to wind up in the top-3.
EDIT 4/17/19 11:20a: The LOI is in for Isaiah Stewart. Welcome Isaiah!
Jaden McDaniels, SF, 6’11, 185. Federal Way H.S, Federal Way, Washington.
247Sports: 5 star, #5 overall; Rivals: 5 star, #6 overall; ESPN: 5 star, #6 overall
Other Offers: Kentucky, Texas, UCLA, San Diego State
Fun fact. I went back through my first preview article for the 2019 recruiting class about 18 months ago and McDaniels was ranked 161st by 247 Sports and hadn’t been ranked by ESPN. Fast forward to now and McDaniels is a consensus top-6 player in the class.
There’s still a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding McDaniels’ eventual commitment. As of right now there’s no timetable for a decision and no word about what at this point could possibly change his mind. While waiting is agonizing for fans, there’s really no reason for McDaniels to rush at this point. Since he’s waited this long he may as well make absolutely sure of who has declared for the draft or left as a transfer to see the final rosters of his Final 5 before signing a LOI (such as confirming that Jaylen Nowell is indeed headed to the pros).
That being said, everything points towards Washington at the moment. Jaden’s brother Jalen officially declared for the NBA Draft which ends any speculation that they might try to play together again for one season at San Diego State. The UCLA coaching situation was a debacle. Texas has averaged just 17 wins and missed the tournament twice in the last 3 seasons. Kentucky just signed a stretch 4 grad transfer and has multiple big wings coming in with their recruiting class.
Washington is in desperate need for scorers, has a defensive system that can take advantage of his length while keeping him away from guarding power forwards 50 pounds heavier than him, and is close to home. Obviously, Jaden’s priorities don’t match mine but it just makes so much sense for him to end up on Montlake.
Either McDaniels becomes the last member of the UW recruiting class or I expect the Huskies to call it a day on the Class of 2019. Noah Williams decommitted from Buffalo following coach Nate Oats bolting for Alabama but he’s no longer in the picture for Washington who are comfortable at PG after adding Marcus Tsohonis and Quade Green. No one else with an offer is uncommitted at this point. Former UW commit Ed Chang announced yesterday that he’s transferring after 1 year at San Diego State but given that academic qualification appeared to be the major hold up the first time around I’d be surprised if things had changed enough to make it a possibility now.
With Nowell leaving for the NBA Draft plus the graduations of Crisp, Green, Thybulle, and Dickerson it would give Washington 5 open scholarships. They have commitments from Tsohonis, Battle, and Stewart. That leaves 2 spots. If McDaniels signs then that leaves just one remaining.
However, the 2020 and 2021 classes are loaded and the Huskies want as many scholarships as possible for those years. Stewart and McDaniels are certainly one-and-done guys which means their spots are free for 2020 no matter what. Sam Timmins is the only senior for next year on the roster and let’s assume the Huskies carry over one empty spot. That would leave Washington with at least 4 scholarships left over for the Class of 2020. And the first shoe on that front is about to drop...
Julian Strawther, SF, 6’6, 220. Liberty H.S, Henderson, Nevada.
247Sports: 4 star, #39 overall; Rivals: 4 star, #37 overall; ESPN: 4 star, #36 overall
Other Offers: Gonzaga, Marquette, Florida State, Florida
I will be announcing my college decision on my birthday (April 18th) !!! ‼️— ✞ Julian Strawther ✞ (@JulianStrawther) April 7, 2019
Strawther’s commitment will be the first among a realistic Husky target for the Class of 2020. There are several reasons for Washington to feel good about their chances. Strawther played AAU ball under Quincy Pondexter’s California United team and views Q-Pon as a mentor. He doesn’t go to Bishop Gorman but coming from nearby he has ties with many fellow UW targets in the greater Vegas area where Washington with the help of assistant coach Dave Rice has been trying to expand their recruiting footprint. Washington also earned Strawther’s final official visit and while the game itself was a dud (senior night against Oregon) the pre-game atmosphere and crowd put forward a good impression.
There hasn’t been a ton of official information out there with regards to Strawther’s leanings. He didn’t do any kind of visit recap with a major recruiting service following his UW visit so the most recent quotes come from January in which at the time he said he had the strongest connection with the UW coaching staff.
All indications are that it’s down to Washington and Gonzaga with the edge going to the Zags. Any other selection would surprise me. If the Huskies do miss out on Strawther they at least are in a very good spot with local 4/5 star MarJon Beauchamp who is a very similar wing scorer prospect. It wouldn’t surprise me if an unspoken part of Strawther’s decision winds up being that he assumes Beauchamp is coming here and doesn’t want to overlap at the same position. Strawther averaged 26.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game during his junior season. Stay tuned and we’ll have more information about Strawther on Thursday if he commits to Washington.
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