Things have been quiet on the recruiting front for Mike Hopkins and Husky basketball. But Washington received a major boost in that regard after 4-star guard Wesley Yates announced that he has committed to UW. Yates is rated as the 30th overall player in the class of 2023 by the 247 Sports Composite. He is the highest UW commit since the pair of 5-stars Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart in the class of 2019.
Top-40 recruit Wesley Yates has committed to Washington, picking them over the likes of LSU, Texas, Auburn, Stanford, Arkansas, etc. Cousin of UW assistant/former star Quincy Pondexter.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) October 5, 2022
On Mike Hopkins: “He gets the best out of his guys. I want to play for him.” @PaulBiancardi
The 6’4, 200 lb Yates hails from Beaumont, Texas and it has been a long, long time since Washington was able to pull a highly sought after recruit from that region of the country. The Huskies were able to pull it off, at least in part, because Yates is cousins with Husky assistant coach Quincy Pondexter. Even with a family connection the Huskies had to fend off Auburn and in particular LSU for Yates’ commitment. Will Wade is no longer the coach at LSU but it’s still a nerve wracking position to be in trying to outduel the Tigers and their player acquisition model down the stretch.
Washington was able to get it done in part because they believe Yates can step in from day one and be a primary scoring option for them. His primary role in high school and in the EYBL was as a scorer but he has shown hints of distribution ability. Playing for a Louisiana team on the EYBL circuit this summer Yates averaged 17.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game on 50/36/79% shooting splits.
Yates shows a knack for being able to get to the basket in transition despite not being a 99th percentile explosive athlete. That’s not to say that Yates can’t go up and throw down a nasty dunk but there is a shiftiness and skill to his transition game. His shot is a little slow and he brings the ball too low before starting his motion but he still makes a respectable percentage from his outside shot. He shouldn’t be expected to come in as a sniper from day one but will likely be at least an average 3-pt shooter right away.
Technically Washington only has one spot available in the class of 2023. Jamal Bey is the lone scholarship player who will run out of eligibility and Yates will essentially take his spot on the roster. Incoming Kentucky transfer Keion Brooks Jr. was a potential risk to jump to the NBA this past offseason and with a good season has a chance to be one and done with Washington despite being eligible to return in 2023-24.
In the transfer portal era you can never expect a roster to stay static though. There are going to be 3-5 players this season who don’t see the court outside of garbage time and it’s reasonable to expect at least one if not most of them to transfer every year in the current environment. 6’8 Seattle Prep forward Christian King took an official visit to Washington recently and is a candidate to join the 2023 class if another spot opens but it’s possible if not likely that Yates is the lone high school newcomer in the class.
A projected depth chart for the 2023-24 season if Bey and Brooks were the only departures (and with no subsequent additions to fill the 13th roster spot) would potentially look like:
PG: Noah Williams, Koren Johnson
SG: Wesley Yates, PJ Fuller, Keyon Menifield
SF: Cole Bajema, Samuel Ariyibi, Tyler Linhardt
PF: Langston Wilson, Jackson Grant
C: Franck Kepnang, Braxton Meah
How competitive that roster might be will depend largely on the growth we see this season from players such as Williams, Fuller, Bajema, Wilson, and Kepnang. If all or most show progress this year then the Huskies should be a contender for an NCAA berth. If instead those players stagnate and Washington struggles then there may be a vacancy on the bench and a lot more roster turmoil.
While there may be uncertainty around Washington’s program it’s still worth giving credit to the coaching staff for getting a commitment from a player of Yates’ caliber with several SEC programs vying for his pledge. The cousin connection for Q-Pon got them in the door but it isn’t his brother or dad on the UW coaching staff. Washington had to sell Yates on how he fit in with Hop’s system and they were able to get it done. Welcome to Seattle, Wesley!
Here are some of Yates’ highlights: