HILLSBORO, Ore. — In nearly each facet of his life, Jaden McDaniels is followed by a similar line of questioning: where are you going to college?
Much of the college basketball world awaits an answer.
McDaniels is five-star power forward from Federal Way High School whose scoring abilities and slender 6-foot-11 build draw comparisons to a younger Kevin Durant. He’s one of two players in ESPN’s Top 10 2019 college basketball recruits who have yet to commit to a college.
And that’s deliberate, he says.
“As a recruit, you have a lot of power,” McDaniels said after being named MVP at the Northwest Shootout. “(Scouts) can’t say where you’re going. You choose where you want to go. I feel like (it’s best) if you take your time and make the best choice.”
Time also allows him opportunity to watch other dominoes fall. Which big recruits are going where? What college players are declaring for the NBA draft? Who among the coaches recruiting him might get fired or leave for another job?
Those are consequential questions for McDaniels’ top 5 schools, which he lists as Washington, Kentucky, Texas, San Diego State and UCLA.
UCLA fired head coach Steve Alford in December and missed the NCAA tournament altogether. Replacing its coach hasn’t been smooth, either. The Bruins hired Mick Cronin on April 9 after public whiffs with their first two options, TCU’s Jamie Dixon and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes.
Washington’s Mike Hopkins and Kentucky’s John Calipari top the list of coaches with the most job security. Hopkins signed an extension after UW’s best season in over a decade, and Calipari reportedly signed a lifetime deal.
While the same line of questioning — his college decision — followed McDaniels last weekend as he shuffled between the Nike Hoop Summit scrimmage at the Portland Trail Blazers practice facility, and two-a-days leading up to the 2019 Northwest Shootout, he felt confident in his indecision.
For what it’s worth, 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer gives McDaniels a 50 percent shot to stay in-state and go to Washington, a 33 percent chance to go to San Diego State and a 17 percent shot for Kentucky.
But McDaniels has given little indication which way he’s leaning.
At the Northwest Shootout — the Washington versus Oregon high school all-star game — McDaniels faced off against UW commit Marcus Tsohonis of Jefferson High School (Oregon).
After the game, McDaniels posed for pictures with fans after scoring 25 points and throwing down rim-rocking dunks in an MVP performance.
McDaniels, whose brother Jalen declared for the 2019 NBA draft after two seasons at San Diego State, likely won’t be long for college anyway. He’s a consensus top 5 pick in the 2020 NBA draft. ESPN’s mock draft has him as the top overall pick.
McDaniels said he doesn’t bother his brother with frequent questions about his college recruiting process, and rather lets him prepare for the NBA draft. But when they do talk about it, Jalen’s words are encouraging.
“He always tells me to take my time, do what’s best for me and nobody else,” Jaden McDaniels said.
The spring signing period began on Wednesday and goes through May 15, but McDaniels said he doesn’t have a timeline.
“Whenever I feel comfortable, whenever the time I feel ready to announce, that’s when it’s going to come,” McDaniels said.