SEATTLE — Building depth at certain positions is becoming the central focus of Mike Hopkins’ second recruiting class at Washington. Adding center Bryan Penn-Johnson could fulfill another need.
Penn-Johnson, who led Wasatch Academy (Utah) to a 24-2 record, tweeted Monday he’ll play next season for UW. At 7-feet and 210 pounds, the athletically-gifted center is a composite four-star prospect. 247 Sports, which projected Penn-Johnson would choose the Huskies, considers him to be the nation’s No. 7 center. Rivals views Penn-Johnson to be the eighth-best player at his position in America. He possesses a reported 7 feet, 6.5-inch wingspan.
His length allows him to serve as a rim protector who also has the quickness to contest shots from all over the floor. Penn-Johnson can also put the ball on the deck if he needs to back down an opponent. Plus, he can also distribute in either the high or low post should a teammate get free.
Seventeen schools — Arizona, Florida State, Kansas, Oregon and Utah — all offered scholarships to Penn-Johnson before he narrowed his choices to DePaul and UW.
Penn-Johnson becomes the fourth member of the class who will sign with the Huskies. He joins four-star swingman Jamal Bey, three-star point guard Elijah Hardy and three-star forward Nate Roberts.
The class is fifth in the Pac-12 and 28th nationally, according to 247’s rankings.
Getting Penn-Johnson and Roberts, who is listed between 6-10 and 6-11, gives the Huskies flexibility and size when it comes to the interior.
Hopkins and his staff were constantly figuring out ways to make up for those issues throughout the year. Sophomore center Sam Timmins was the only player on the roster taller than 6-10.
UW used a frontcourt rotation of junior forward Noah Dickerson, freshman forward Hameir Wright and Timmins which yielded mixed results. The trio helped the Huskies win 21 games and reach the NIT second round. Timmins, who averages 1.0 blocks per game, is one of the reasons why UW is 15th nationally with 5.2 blocks.
The Huskies, however, struggled in other areas. Fourteen of their 18 Pac-12 games saw players taller than 6-7 lead their respective teams in scoring by averaging more than 22 points per game.
Rebounding was also a season-long issue. The Huskies averaged 33.1 boards and that ranks 272nd out of 351 Division I teams. It was also the second-lowest total in the Pac-12 behind Washington State at 32.5 rebounds. UW was only grabbing 69.3 percent of its defensive rebounds and that’s one of the lowest percentages in the nation.
Hopkins returns all five starters and key bench players like freshman guard Nahziah Carter, junior guard Dominic Green and Wright among others.
Penn-Johnson and Roberts would bolster the Huskies’ frontcourt and allow Hopkins the chance to have multiple rotations he could run at power forward and center going into next season.