The University of Washington men’s basketball team will lose three players — and likely a fourth — from its 2019-20 roster.
Freshman Isaiah Stewart already declared for the NBA draft, classmate Jaden McDaniels likely won’t be too far behind and senior Sam Timmins graduated. Sophomore guard Elijah Hardy also entered the transfer portal. And while Hardy could still return, it seems unlikely he’ll be back for the Huskies next season.
UW added some new faces to fill those roster spots. USC transfer and Seattle native J’Raan Brooks sat out this season and will be eligible. The Huskies also added Wichita State transfer and former Timberline standout Erik Stevenson and North Idaho transfer Nate Pryor, a former West Seattle star.
The Huskies will also bring back several key players from this past season’s roster, including six that started at least one game. One of the more intruguing names returning is Marysville Pilchuck alum RaeQuan Battle.
Battle saw his minutes increase last season after the Huskies lost starting point guard Quade Green to academic ineligibility, but the freshman sharp-shooter’s time on the floor was less consistent than that of freshman guard Marcus Tsohonis. Battle appeared in 20 games, starting three. His best stretch came from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1 when he averaged 12 points per game in losses to Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State. He made nine threes during that period, including four each against Colorado and Arizona.
In discussing Battle, Huskies head coach Mike Hopkins talked about what he needs to work on heading into next season.
“He needs to get his body right. Obviously, shot selection,” Hopkins said. “The thing what makes him great is, he’s got what great players have. They have ultimate confidence. I believe that he thinks if he took a half-court shot, it’s going in. … I wish I had that as a player. That’s great.”
Battle’s minutes fluctuated plenty last season — two games after playing a season-high 32 minutes against the Buffaloes, he played just 1 against Washington State — and Hopkins often referenced to his need to improve defensively.
“I think at the end of the day, he had some incredible moments as a freshman. His ability to shoot the ball and and not only to shoot the ball, he’s got a quick release. He gets it up quickly, like you can’t guard it. Now, it goes back to his body needs to get better, strength and conditioning,” Hopkins said. “I thought he was a much-improved defensive player. The one thing that people don’t know about RaeQuan: RaeQuan can fly. Like he can really jump. … His future is on a different level. His potential is just limitless. … When you’re a great shooter, that helps other guys because guys are going to be flying at you. So, how do you use your pump fake? How do you use those types of things? That just goes back to studying and experience and learning.”