Washington forward Isaiah Stewart shoots during a game against USC on Feb. 13, 2020, in Los Angeles. Stewart announced Wednesday that he is leaving Washington and entering the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Washington forward Isaiah Stewart shoots during a game against USC on Feb. 13, 2020, in Los Angeles. Stewart announced Wednesday that he is leaving Washington and entering the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

UW’s Stewart declares for NBA draft

The freshman sensation led the Huskies in scoring, rebounding and blocks in his only season at UW.

By Percy Allen / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — The dynamic combination of Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, the first pairing of top-10 recruits in Washington men’s basketball history, was never going to last long.

Throughout a disappointing season that promised much more than it delivered, Huskies coach Mike Hopkins often talked about their anticipated departures even though the touted freshman stars demurred when asked about their plans.

On Wednesday, Stewart announced he’s leaving Washington and entering the 2020 NBA draft. He is expected to be selected in the first round.

“After discussions with my family and the coaching staff and with a great deal of prayer, thought and consideration, I have decided to declare for the 2020 NBA draft,” Stewart said via Twitter.

McDaniels is also expected declare for the draft, and an announcement is believed to be pending. The deadline for underclassmen to apply for the draft is April 26.

Stewart is projected as the No. 21 overall pick to Dallas, according to NBAdraft.net. Meanwhile, ESPN has him slotted at No. 26 in its ranking of prospects.

“Already has the body to battle with NBA bigs,” ESPN’s Mike Schmitz said in an evaluation of Stewart. “Relentless pursuing offensive rebounds. Has the strength to defend the post and clean up the defensive glass as well. Willing to do all the little things. Sets hard screens.”

Stewart, a square-shouldered and chiseled 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward, was the No. 2 recruit in the country and No. 3 by ESPN before arriving at UW.

The Rochester, N.Y., native immediately became a leader on a young team with four new starters. He started all 32 games and led UW in scoring (17.0 points per game), rebounds (8.8), blocks (2.1), field-goal percentage (57%) and minutes (32.2) despite constant double-team defenses designed to stop him.

Stewart, who was voted to the All-Pac-12 first team, set the UW freshman record for blocks (66) and rebounds (281). He saved his best performance for the end, tallying a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds against Arizona in a 77-70 loss in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

“Isaiah exemplifies everything you want from a student athlete,” Hopkins said in a statement. “He wears his heart on his sleeve, in the way he plays, how he interacts with the community, our fans and everyone he comes into contact with.

“As a coach, you want to see your players’ dreams come true. His dream of playing in the NBA is becoming a reality. I’m so proud of him. He is a special kid and I was honored to coach him. He’ll be a part of the Husky family forever.”

When Washington landed Stewart and McDaniels last year, expectations soared at UW, and the newest Huskies drew immediate comparisons to former Duke stars Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett.

“Big things are happening at UW,” Stewart said shortly before McDaniels committed to UW. “It’s a team game, and you never want to put too much on one guy, but Jaden is special man. … You add that type of player to your team, and if you’re not thinking Final Four then your dreams aren’t big enough.”

The Huskies were picked third in the Pac-12 preseason poll and touted as a dark horse Final Four contender.

After racing to a 10-2 start and climbing into the Associated Press Top 25 poll, Washington lost 15 of its last 20 games, including a nine-game losing streak that tied for the second-longest in school history.

The Huskies finished last in the Pac-12 at 5-13 and 15-17 overall.

Without Stewart and the likely departure of McDaniels, Washington is expected to bring back four starters and six of its top-eight scorers, led by junior guard Nahziah Carter, who averaged 12.2 points.

Sophomore point guard Quade Green, who averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists, is also expected return after missing the last 17 games due to an academic suspension.

The Huskies will also add 6-9 sophomore forward J’Raan Brooks, who sat out last season after transferring from USC, and former Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson.

“Coming from the East Coast, the city of Seattle was so welcoming to me,” Stewart said. “It will always have a special place in my heart and I’ll never forget all of the love that the fans showed me.

“Finally, I’d like to thank the University of Washington for giving me an opportunity to be a part of the Husky Family!”

Stewart joins a long list of UW players who have left school early and were chosen in the draft including: Markelle Fultz (2017), Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss (2016), Terrance Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. (2012), Isaiah Thomas (2011), Spencer Hawes (2007) and Nate Robinson (2005).

Talk to us

More in Sports

The Shorecrest bench reacts to a missed shot in the final seconds of regular time to send the game against Arlington to overtime on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Arlington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wave of cancellations wreaking havoc on winter prep sports

‘It’s just been so hard’: Canceled games and program shutdowns have been commonplace for local teams.

Seattle University's Hal Uderitz, a Snohomish High School graduate, competes during a game against Portland on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo provided by Seattle U)
Snohomish grad hopes to earn contract with Sounders

Hal Uderitz was drafted in the third round by Seattle and aims to prove in preseason he’s deserving of a first-team contract.

Stanwood's Kaeden McGlothin yells after stealing the ball from Mountlake Terrace's Adison Mattix to seal the win for Stanwood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood pulls out ‘gritty’ win over Mountlake Terrace

The Spartans answered every Mountlake Terrace push in a tense fourth quarter for a 63-62 victory.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22

Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Huuhtanen scores twice, leads Silvertips past Royals

In its only game of the week, first-place Everett beats Victoria 5-3 on the road.

Chicago State guard Aaliyah Collins, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (Sebastian Montoya / Chicago State Athletics)
Community roundup: GP grad shines again for Chicago State

Plus, professional bull riding is coming to Everett, former Silvertips are headed to the Olympics and more.

Jackson's Lindyn Solis bowls during a match against Everett on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Jackson, Everett girls bowlers hit the lanes

The Timberwolves brought a 13-1 record into the match with the state tournament fast approaching.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21

Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read