Washington head coach Mike Hopkins directs his team during a practice on Oct. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington head coach Mike Hopkins directs his team during a practice on Oct. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

UW men’s first 3 games of basketball season canceled

The Husky Classic in Seattle was called off due to COVID-19-related issues with visiting teams.

By Lauren Kirschman / The News Tribune

The Washington Huskies football team had three season openers canceled before it finally faced Oregon State last week.

Now, the men’s basketball team is on a similar track.

UW was set to open the season on Nov. 25 against Portland State as part of the Husky Classic. The early season tournament was scheduled to be held on Nov. 25, 27 and 28 at Alaska Airlines Arena and feature UW, Cal State Fullerton, San Diego and Portland State.

But UW announced on Saturday the tournament had been canceled due to COVID-19-related shutdowns for Fullerton and San Diego as well as uncertainty with Portland State’s availability due to its status with the Oregon Health Authority.

Last week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown instructed the University of Portland and Portland State to shut down men and women’s basketball operations. The teams will be allowed to resume practices when exemption is processed. They were still awaiting permission as of Thursday, The Oregonian reported

“We’re obviously disappointed for our student-athletes who have been getting ready for the start of the season but we understand the necessity of the protocols put in place to protect their safety during this time,” UW head coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement. “We’re going to keep looking to get games on the schedule, but the health and safety of our student-athletes is the most important thing right now.”

As of now, UW’s season opener would be a Pac-12 game — at Utah on Dec. 3. But that game is also in jeopardy. CBS Sports reported on Friday that Utes’ basketball was pausing for the foreseeable future due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases within the program.

After Utah, the Huskies’ next scheduled game is at home against Seattle University on Dec. 9.

The Huskies are coming off a disappointing 15-17 season last year despite having a pair of first-round NBA draft picks in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.

In addition, leading returning scorer Nahziah Carter was suspended indefinitely in October for violating the Washington athletic department code of conduct.

Marysville Pilchuck alum RaeQuan Battle returns after averaging 5.5 points per game as a freshman.

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