Boys Basketball Recruiting

Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way 5-star recruit, still undecided on college after NCAA spring signing period ends

The end of the NCAA’s spring signing period came, went, and left many fans waiting for Federal Way standout Jaden McDaniels to make his decision.

Wednesday was the final day for high school athletes to sign National Letters of Intent, and it was met with silence from the five-star recruit.

That’s not all too uncommon among the other five-stars around the country.

While most of the top basketball recruits across the state of Washington are all committed and signed, McDaniels is one of four five-star recruits who have remained undecided, along with R.J. Hampton, Precious Achiuwa and Trendon Watford.

NBA Draft rules continue to change on a year-to-year basis in favor of college basketball players testing the waters, and it’s having a ripple effect on the recruiting process of projected one-and-done players.

The NCAA allows college basketball players to enter in the NBA Draft to test their professional prospects, but must withdraw by May 29 to retain their college eligibility. McDaniels might be waiting to see who comes back to college at his final schools.

McDaniels, a 6-foot-10 power forward, is viewed by some as a top-5 prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft, meaning his stay in college will likely be just for one season.

Some have speculated McDaniels is down to two schools: Washington and Kentucky.

Let’s take a look at what the rosters could be for both schools:


Key departure: Matisse Thybulle
Question mark(s): Jaylen Nowell
Recruiting class: No. 25 in the country (247 Sports)

Gone is Pac-12 defensive player of the year Matisse Thybulle to graduation, and the NBA Draft, and Garfield High School product Jaylen Nowell, has declared for the draft with an agent. Nowell, who was named Pac-12 player of the year as a sophomore, still has over a week to decide whether to remain in the draft, or return back to school. Nowell, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on 50.2 percent shooting. ESPN ranks him as the 92nd best prospect available (there are 60 picks over two rounds), though the 19-year-old was one of 66 entrants invited to the NBA Combine this week. Nowell was the focal point of Washington’s offense last season, and him staying in the draft would spell more touches for McDaniels. Those will also surely be shared with fellow five-star 2019 recruit Isaiah Stewart the No. 3 prospect in the country, according to 247 Sports. Nahziah Carter and Hameir Wright also return for the Huskies.


Key departures: Reid Travis, Jamari Baker (transfer)
Question mark(s): PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards
Recruiting class: No. 1 in the country (247 Sports)

Kentucky’s roster for next season could change drastically over the next two weeks, depending on who stays in the NBA Draft. Five players have declared for the NBA Draft as early entries, and three of them — PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson — have all announced their intent to stay in the draft. That means, as has become the norm, Kentucky will be shaped by its top-tier incoming freshman recruiting class, which includes three five-stars: Tyrese Maxey is a 6-foot-3 combo guard and Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks are both wings, and will likely get touches immediately.

What others are saying

  • Sports Illustrated lists Kentucky as the favorite, citing coach John Calipari’s penchant for churning out one-and-dones.
  • In its crystal ball prediction, 247 Sports lists Washington and Kentucky as neck-and-neck, the Huskies with a slight edge at 38 percent chance, Kentucky at 31 percent.
  • Bleacher Report gave Washington the edge in a prediction made back in December.
  • CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish ranked next season’s college basketball men’s top-25, if McDaniels were to commit to Kentucky.

On this week’s Scorebook Live Today podcast, analyst Dan Dickau and reporter Todd Milles weighed in on McDaniels’ silent recruitment. Listen here:


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