By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — This time, the Huskies got their man.
Considering the way the last signing day went down, University of Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar had every reason to be on pins and needles Wednesday morning.
But when all four of the signed letters-of-intent the Huskies had expected arrived, including one from local legend Tony Wroten Jr., Romar was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Unlike last spring, when Portland prep star Terrence Jones turned his back on a verbal agreement with UW and signed with Kentucky, the Huskies got their men signed, sealed and delivered Wednesday afternoon.
“We always say we want kids that want to be here,” Romar said. “And these four kids that signed, they really want to be here — and that’s exciting.”
Wroten, a 6-foot-4 point guard from Seattle’s Garfield High School, was the biggest name among UW’s four-man class. Fellow Seattle native Hikeem Stewart from Rainier Beach High also signed, along with 6-foot-10 power forward Jernard Jarreau of New Orleans and Portland point guard Andrew Andrews.
Rivals.com ranked UW’s class No. 22 in the country and third in the Pac-10. Arizona ranked ninth, while an Oregon class that includes Jackson High star Brett Kingma ranked 19th.
Rivals had Wroten as the No. 30 prospect in the country. He had been ranked as high as No. 1 during his sophomore year at Garfield, but a knee injury Wroten suffered as a junior football player affected his stock.
“I first saw him play in the eighth grade,” Romar said. “Right away, you knew this was a special talent. I watched his development over the years, watched how he came back from that ACL surgery and how he developed even more of a passion to be the best.
“… Now he’s at a level where he’s one of the best basketball players in the country and can do things that no one else in the country can do.”
Romar said Wroten’s passing ability is his best asset.
“He is flashy — he’ll do some flashy things on the floor,” Romar said, “but he also is a winner.”
This marks the third time in four years that UW has nabbed Rivals.com’s top in-state product. Last year, Kentwood big man Josh Smith chose UCLA over the Huskies. Tacoma product Abdul Gaddy, a current UW sophomore, was the prize of the 2009 class. And guard Isaiah Thomas was the state’s top recruit in 2008.
In recent years, in-state recruits like Bremerton’s Marvin Williams (North Carolina), Bainbridge’s Steven Gray (Gonzaga) and Seattle’s Peyton Siva (Louisville) have gotten away.
In a sense, Romar’s latest recruiting class made up for one of his first ones. Twins Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart turned the Huskies to attend USC, and now their younger brother Hikeem will play at UW.
Stewart is the 111th-best prospect in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals.
Romar called him “a combo guard who can do a lot of things. He has a winner’s mentality. He’s a good guard now, but his best days are ahead of him.”
Jarreau adds size to a frontcourt that will lose starting post Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Romar said he “looks like a Kevin Durant” but plays a different kind of game — more like “a Lamar Odom.”
“He’s not a guy you stick in the post because he’s 6-10,” Romar said. “… He’s a skilled forward who’s pretty versatile on the floor.”
Andrews provides depth at a position where underclassmen Thomas, Gaddy and/or Wroten could decide to turn pro early.
Romar compared Andrews to former Husky Will Conroy and said he would be a part of the 2011 class “if a scholarship is available.” If not, Andrews could go to prep school.
“When there’s a point guard out there who knows how to play the position,” Romar said, “it’s hard to turn that guy down.”
Most important, none of the recruits who gave UW verbal commitments this time turned the Huskies down.
“Every year you have someone you really wanted that you didn’t get,” Romar said. “There weren’t many (this year). We’re happy with the ones we have.”
A fifth recruit, Tacoma Community College forward Kevin Davis, could be added to the class if he fulfills academic requirements. The 6-7 forward would not have to sign a letter of intent but could simply sign a financial-aid agreement to attend UW. … The Huskies open their season Saturday afternoon against McNeese State.