The Huskies received disappointing news this morning when redshirt sophomore center Bryan Penn-Johnson announced he is entering the transfer portal.
The 7-footer was one of the first recruiting targets for Coach Mike Hopkins when he got the Washington job and so it’s unfortunate to see him departing before ever making a true contribution on the court. It appeared BPJ would see time as a true freshman after he appeared briefly in 5 of UW’s first 7 games but he suffered a leg injury which sidelined him for several months leading to the decision to redshirt.
In year 2 the Huskies brought in Isaiah Stewart to again fill the center position and Penn-Johnson played just a combined 34 minutes during which he scored 11 points with 3 rebounds and 5 blocks albeit mostly in garbage time. There appeared to be a clear path to playing time this upcoming season with fellow RS Soph Nate Roberts as the only other reasonable starting center option on the roster.
The physical tools were always there with BPJ as his nearly 7’6 wingspan suggested the potential to be a defensive monster protecting the rim in Hop’s zone defense. On offense BPJ showed the makings of a short hook game to go along with his dunk potential. But in his few minutes on the court BPJ fouled at an astronomical rate and rebounded much worse than someone you’d expect of that size.
With the Huskies now having lost Stewart, McDaniels, Timmins, and BPJ off of last season’s team (all 6’9 or taller) we now see a much less physically imposing roster. 7’4 former walk-on Riley Sorn, who is expected to be placed on scholarship, and the aforementioned Nate Roberts appear to be the only truly viable options at center.
Hameir Wright played minutes at center during his sophomore season and has the required wingspan but his lack of rebounding makes it less appealing as a full-time option. BPJ’s departure puts a lot of pressure on Roberts to be “the guy” in the middle while Sorn may be pressed into duty more than you would expect. J’Raan Brooks redshirted last season at 6’9 but his body type is more of a 3/4 hybrid rather than a big who can be expected to protect the rim.
Washington now has 1 open scholarship available with 2 seniors on the roster plus Quade Green who it wouldn’t be surprising to see move on after this year for the pros. That gives the Huskies at least 3 if not 4 open spots for their 2021 recruiting class with top-100 local big man Jackson Grant already committed.
Here’s the current roster situation with players in parentheses having uncertain eligibility for the upcoming season depending on the status of transfer waivers.
Point Guard: Quade Green, Marcus Tsohonis, Nate Pryor
2/3 Wing: Nahziah Carter, Jamal Bey, RaeQuan Battle, (Erik Stevenson), (Cole Bajema)
3/4 Wing: J’Raan Brooks, Hameir Wright
Center: Nate Roberts, Riley Sorn
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