The extra wait for five-star basketball recruit Jaden McDaniels was well worth it for the Washington Huskies.
McDaniels, the springy star from Federal Way High School and consensus top power forward prospect in the country, announced Tuesday night on social media that he signed with the Huskies over the Kentucky Wildcats.
He posted a 40-second video on Instagram at 10 p.m. PT, showing the four important jerseys he has worn during his career – Federal Way High School, Rotary, McDonalds All-American and Jordan Classic – then showed a fifth purple Huskies jersey with his No. 2 number on it. On Twitter, McDaniels posted a still shot of himself in a UW uniform, stating, “I’m staying home.”
McDaniels’ announcement comes six days after the regular signing period for basketball ended May 15.
UW coach Mike Hopkins called McDaniels “an elite player” with a wide-arraying skill set for a player of his size.
“Getting an incredible player from our state is not only special but he is a proven winner and has developed into not only the top player in the state, but one of the best in the nation,” Hopkins said Wednesday morning. “He is the perfect fit for the culture we are creating here as we continue to build the UW program and we couldn’t be more excited to see him in purple and gold.”
Before McDaniels revealed his choice, the Huskies had the 16th-best recruiting class in the country, led by five-star center and No. 3 prospect nationally Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind.), according to ESPN.com. Now, they likely jump into the top 10.
More importantly, McDaniels’ pledge gives Hopkins plenty of firepower in reversing a trend that has plagued the program for years – keeping the best home-grown talent home.
Keeping McDaniels (ranked No. 7 in ESPN.com’s; No. 8 by 247sports.com), even if it is just for one season, is arguably the Huskies’ biggest in-state get since Seattle Prep’s Spencer Hawes (sixth-best recruit nationally by 247sports.com) signed in 2006.
Last season, McDaniels averaged 23.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in leading the Eagles to a third-place showing at the Class 4A state championships.
McDaniels was the state’s lone selection for the McDonalds All-American Game (late-March in Atlanta) and the Jordan Brand Classic (mid-April in Las Vegas) — two elite national all-star games.
Also in April, McDaniels was named the most valuable player (25 points, 10 rebounds) of the Northwest Shootout, the annual senior-only rivalry game between Washington and Oregon all-stars.
Over the past 15 years under former coach Lorenzo Romar, the Huskies have been able to sign a few other five-star in-state recruits, notably Bellarmine Prep point guard Abdul Gaddy in 2009 (No. 14); and Garfield guard Tony Wroten Jr. in 2011 (No. 19).
But they have largely missed on the best ones, including Bremerton’s Marvin Williams (No. 9 recruit went to North Carolina) in 2004; Bellarmine Prep’s Avery Bradley (No. 4 recruit went to Texas) and Franklin’s Peyton Siva (No. 25 recruit went to Louisville) in 2009; Kentwood’s Joshua Smith (No. 17 recruit went to UCLA) in 2010; and Rainier Beach’s Shaqquan Aaron (No. 25 recruit went to USC) in 2014.
To be fair, in 2017, Nathan Hale’s Michael Porter Jr. (No. 2 recruit in the country behind Marvin Bagley III) had originally given the UW an oral commitment. But after Romar was fired, and Hopkins was shortly hired thereafter, Porter signed with Missouri.
Hopkins was able to keep Garfield’s top-60 guard Jaylen Nowell in the fold. Nowell was voted the Pac-12 player of the year for 2018-19 in February.
And last season, Rainier Beach’s Kevin Porter Jr. (No. 28) signed with USC after the Huskies showed little interest in keeping him around.