In a move that was anticipated from the day that Isaiah Stewart committed to Washington, the Husky big man announced this morning that he is declaring for the NBA Draft after just a single season in Seattle.
Stewart was rated as the #3 player in the class of 2019 by the 247 Sports composite and if a player in that range isn’t a one and done it likely means something has gone horribly wrong. While Washington’s season may have gone off the rails, Stewart was by far their most dependable option.
The 6’9 big man with a 7’4 wingspan finishes his Washington career averaging 17 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. That kind of production resulted in a 1st team all Pac-12 selection and Stewart would likely have received greater accolades had his stellar numbers been accompanied by greater team success.
The expectation is that Stewart will be a better college player than a pro. He currently sits at #26 on Jonathan Givony’s big board after beginning the season inside the top-ten. Playing inside Washington’s zone prevented him from needing to guard on the perimeter which is a must in today’s pick and roll heavy NBA game. Stewart also had marginal success from the 3-pt line which is increasingly required of every big man.
Isaiah became the Huskies’ best free throw shooter though by year’s end and converted 77.4% of his trips to the foul line which hints at an ability to knock down shots when required. For the most part Washington utilized his tremendous post-up game to carry their offense which again is an element that has fallen out of favor in the NBA.
There are very few though who don’t think Isaiah will have a productive NBA career even if he never develops into a superstar. Stewart has had an NBA body since he was 16 and during his season in Seattle has shown to be incredibly mature and a great teammate. His energy and hustle is infectious and it’s hard to imagine him failing at anything to which he puts his mind.
Without Stewart the Huskies will likely rely on the redshirt sophomore duo of Nate Roberts and Bryan Penn-Johnson to man the middle of the zone defense. Neither saw consistent playing time with Stewart and senior Sam Timmins taking up nearly all of the minutes so it will be uncharted territory. With no Noah Dickerson and no Isaiah Stewart we’ll find out if the Huskies move away from an offense built around posting up their center and instead try to spread the floor and open up space for driving lanes. Washington still awaits NBA Draft decisions by Jaden McDaniels and Nahziah Carter with the most likely scenario remaining that McDaniels leaves and Carter stays.
Isaiah Stewart formed an unbreakable bond with Mike Hopkins at a young age and has demonstrated his loyalty to Hop first by pledging to UW and then throughout his time at Washington. Things didn’t turn out the way anyone wanted this season but Isaiah never showed anything less than 100% effort and was a smiling tireless force for the Dawgs inside. I’m grateful that I got to watch him play in person all year and will be rooting hard for him to succeed at the next level.
Best of luck Isaiah!