On Wednesday I published part one of my class of 2021 recruiting primer and you can go back to read it here. That article touched on the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with regards to recruiting and summarized how we should expect the Husky roster to look going into that class.
Today the focus will be on the major targets and where things stand with each recruit. A reminder that one of the other big benefits to the AAU season is that it puts recruits face to face with the recruiting analysts who can provide regular updates on their recruitment. It’s difficult to find a lot of information at the moment which could be either a help or a hurt for the Huskies.
Nolan Hickman, PG, 6’2, 180. Eastside Catholic H.S, Sammamish, Washington.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 4 star, #60 overall
Other Offers: Oklahoma, Washington State
The Huskies have been at their best over the last two decades when they’ve had a local floor general at either point guard or combo guard (Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas, Will Conroy, Brandon Roy, Jaylen Nowell, etc). The hope is that Hickman can be the next player on that list. While Hickman doesn’t have ideal size for the front of the Husky zone he’s bigger than either David Crisp or Quade Green. He averaged 17.6 points and 3.7 assists per game this season for Eastside Catholic as they finished 3rd place in the 3A state tournament.
Right now Washington has to be hoping that no one around the country wakes up and pays attention to Hickman. He took an official visit to Oklahoma back in the fall and otherwise things have been fairly quiet with his recruitment. Gonzaga is lurking in the background right now but he hasn’t reported an official offer from them yet. If a national power got involved (Duke, Kentucky, etc.) or maybe even regional power (Arizona, UCLA) it would likely change things but given the stasis over recruiting right now Washington has to feel okay about their chances.
Zaon Collins, PG, 6’1, 165. Bishop Gorman H.S, Las Vegas, Nevada.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 4 star, #44 overall
Other Offers: Arizona State, USC, UNLV, Arizona,
Washington has been after Collins for a long time since they offered him in September of his freshman season. Collins plays for Bishop Gorman where Jamal Bey went to school and whose head coach is the brother of UW assistant coach Dave Rice. The Huskies hoped to cash in on those relationships in the class of 2020 but a pair of targets in Isaiah Cottrell and Noah Taitz both went elsewhere and 4-star SG Will McClendon is already committed to UCLA in this class. It doesn’t look right now that Washington is very close to the top of his list but that might be an indication that the Dawgs are feeling good about Hickman and not pushing as hard since I couldn’t imagine them taking both.
Shane Nowell, SG, 6’5, 190. Eastside Catholic H.S, Sammamish, Washington.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 4 star, #127 overall
Other Offers: Oklahoma, Washington State
This should be a familiar name for literally everyone reading this article. Shane is the younger brother of former Husky and Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell and there are a lot of similarities to their game. Barring a large blossoming of Shane’s game he’s a lower level prospect than Jaylen was but still someone the Huskies want to bring in the door. Just like his brother he’s an above average rebounder for his size but isn’t quite as dynamic as a shooter or scorer. He plays at Eastisde Catholic alongside Hickman and 5-star football prospect J.T Tuimoluau so there wasn’t always enough ball to go around. With his family ties to the program it would be tough to imagine he doesn’t wind up on Montlake.
John Christofilis, SG, 6’4, 170. O’Dea H.S, Seattle, Washington.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 3 star, #144 overall
Other Offers: Grand Canyon
The Huskies gave out an early offer to Christofilis who profiles as a knock down 3-point shooter with solid size for a shooting guard. Unfortunately John suffered a significant leg injury and has missed essentially all of his sophomore season. He returned to score 12 points per game for O’Dea but could’ve used a standout AAU circuit this spring/summer in order to gain some recruiting notoriety. It’s tough to see the Dawgs taking him over Nowell and with Erik Stevenson incoming as a transfer it probably eliminates any chance they take 2 shooting guards in this class. More likely is that Christofilis heads to a WAC or WCC school and is willing to transfer back home if he ever gets the chance.
Jusaun Holt, SF, 6’5, 185. St. Francis Day School, Roswell, Georgia.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 4 star, #107 overall
Other Offers: Clemson, Xavier, Georgia, Oklahoma
It’s not often the Huskies are in the running for a prospect from Georgia but Holt is a western Washington native and still has a lot of family in the region. He profiles as exactly the kind of player Coach Hopkins likes in his SG/SF types. He’s got solid length and is a capable shooter. Holt averaged 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 39% 3-pt shooting as a junior for a high school team that won a Georgia state title. He took an official visit to Washington just before everything shut down so it will be a while before another team gets a chance to make another impression on him.
Peyton Watson, SF, 6’7, 180. Long Beach Poly H.S, Long Beach, California.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 5 star, #22 overall
Other Offers: Arizona, Oregon, USC, Gonzaga
Watson made major moves up the recruiting rankings over the last year as he was spectacular in his first season as a full-time starter at Long Beach Poly. He’s extremely lanky and has perfect length for Washington’s zone but is at least an average shooter from deep and a plus rebounder. He’s got a game that’s tailor made for the NBA and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him head that direction after a single year in college. Josh Gershon at 247 lists his player comparison as former UW star Justin Holiday.
He took official visits to Arizona and Washington in the fall and has also visited Gonzaga. It feels to me like this one is trending away from the Huskies a bit but Watson is a perfect fit for the UW system and you can be sure they’ll be in it until the end.
Jonathan Kuminga, SF, 6’8, 205. The Patrick School, Hillside, New Jersey.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 5 star, #1 overall
Other Offers: Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Georgia
I’m putting Kuminga on this list because he surprisingly included the Dawgs in his top-10 list when he cut it in the fall. He’s rated as the #1 player in his class right now (although he put up only okay numbers for his high school team this season). Hopkins used his New York/New Jersey connections to get in the door but until he announces he’s taking an official to Washington I’m not convinced there’s a chance he’s a realistic option.
Jackson Grant, C, 6’9, 205. Olympia H.S, Olympia, Washington.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 4 star, #53 overall
Committed to Washington
The Huskies got on the board back on the day after their season opening win against Baylor when Grant gave his verbal pledge to Hopkins. He grew up a fan of the Huskies and despite a quick glance at Stanford and Wisconsin there was never much competition for his commitment. Think a more balanced version of Hameir Wright when you consider Grant. Just like Wright, Grant is rail thin and will need to bulk up once he gets to college but Grant is a fantastic shooter and could be a legitimate stretch 5 by the time he graduates high school. I’m excited to see the spacing on offense Grant would provide as a center who can shoot 40%+ from 3-point range.
Paolo Banchero, PF, 6’10, 235. O’Dea H.S, Seattle, Washington.
247 Sports Composite Rating: 5 star, #4 overall
Other Offers: Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona
It’s difficult to have things stack up any better for a generational prospect than they have for Washington and Banchero. His mom was the all-time leading scorer at Washington when she graduated. His dad played on the football team. He has grown up going to games and lived and gone to school a stone’s throw from campus.
And yet I’m not super optimistic that the Dawgs close the deal. Banchero is a complete stud. He averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks per game at O’Dea this past season. Paolo has a polished set of low post moves, is a capable mid range shooter, and has the court vision to operate an offense from the high post. There’s a reason that every school in the country would kill to have him.
Unfortunately it appears he’s a pragmatist and is absolutely giving the blue bloods every chance to sign him. Coach Calipari has been out to Seattle to visit Paolo several times and is looking to best the Dawgs after losing out on Jaden McDaniels. If following this season you angrily exclaimed we should stop recruiting one and dones then you have forfeited all rights to criticize Hopkins if Banchero signs elsewhere. Adding a player like him to a team projected to have 9 upperclassmen is how you compete for titles.
Washington is going to wind up with at least 3 players in this class and that total could stretch to 5 or 6 depending upon how the next year goes. Right now Paolo Banchero and Peyton Watson are the only two players which I think the Huskies still have a shot with who would be considered immediate threats to jump to the NBA. The more likely targets are all 2-4 year guys and the Huskies will need at least 3 of them to stick around for a while and ensure a smooth transition after all of Washington’s current glut of sophomores graduate.
My current projection for the 2021 class:
6’2 PG Nolan Hickman
6’5 SG Shane Nowell
6’5 SF Jusaun Holt
6’9 C Jackson Grant
If that’s the class that ends up signing with the Huskies then they have to consider themselves in good shape even if it will sting to miss out on Banchero. Using 247’s class calculator feature that foursome would finish with a score to put them approximately 15th nationally. Add Banchero to that group and it pushes them towards the top-5.
The List (In approximate order of likelihood to end up at Washington)
C Jackson Grant- 4 star, #53 overall
In Good Shape
SG Shane Nowell- 4 star, #127 overall
PG Nolan Hickman- 4 star, #60 overall
SF Jusaun Holt- 4 star, #107 overall
Still A Chance
SF Peyton Watson- 5 star, #22 overall
PF Paolo Banchero- 5 star, #4 overall
PG Zaon Collins- 4 star, #44 overall
Losing the Numbers Game
SG John Christofilis- 3 star, # 144 overall
PF Alex Tchikou- 4 star, #37 overall
SF Jonathan Kuminga- 5 star, #1 overall
The Blutarsky (0.0%)
SG Jaden Hardy- 5 star, #6 overall
C Franck Kepnang- 5 star, #24 overall
SF Trey Patterson- 4 star, #38 overall