Washington Huskies (11-6, 1-3)
- Head Coach: Mike Hopkins (3rd Season)
- Top Performer: Isaiah Stewart (18.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG)
- Points For: 71.6 PPG (196th)
- Points Against: 62.8 PPG (54th)
- Last Game/Streak: 61-58 Loss at California (2L)
Before point guard Quade Green (11.6 PPG) was ruled academically ineligible for Washington, things were already getting a bit strange for the Huskies.
Mike Hopkins’ crew had suffered a tough, yet respectable, defeat to Houston in the title game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and they returned home to start conference play with two of the most confounding results in the league all-season long. First, the Huskies were edged by a UCLA team who couldn’t seem to do anything right before than and then, Washington laid a beating on USC in a 32-point victory over the Trojans.
Yet still, since Green has been unable to suit up for the squad, things have gotten even worse, with the Huskies dropping back-to-back games on the road at Stanford and California.
Somehow, none of this was in any way envisioned when Washington signed one of the country’s best recruiting classes just some handful of months ago.
If there is any good news to be found in losing four of your last five games, it’s that absolutely nothing is wrong with star forward and likely top-five pick Isaiah Stewart (18.2 PPG), who has continued to just run rough-shot over every opponent he lines up across from. One of the most physically imposing forwards in all of college basketball, Stewart has scored in double-figures every game this season except for one and has grabbed double-digit rebounds eight times. Talk about some serious consistency from a first-year talent.
Next to Stewart on every scouting report stands fellow freshman Jaden McDaniels (13.5 PPG), who together combine for one of the most gifted two-man combos in the league, who both happen to also stand in at 6’ 9” each. Between those two stars and complimentary pieces like another 6’ 9” forward in Hameir Wright (5.0 PPG), towering seven-footer Sam Timmins (2.0 PPG) and freshman Nate Roberts (1.8 PPG), the Huskies don’t struggle at all in terms of depth up-front.
Where Washington has been surprisingly pedestrian is in terms of their guard and wing players, who as a group haven’t exactly had the breakthrough seasons needed to become one of the elite squads in the Pac-12.
For 6’ 6” Nahziah Carter (13.2 PPG), usually refereed to as by Naz, his personal growth filling in at the wing spot has been relevant and on course, but other players who have needed to consistently step up like Jamal Bey (5.8 PPG), RaeQuan Battle (1.3 PPG) and Elijah Hardy (0.8 PPG) haven’t been able to get the job done. As a team that plays through the post and sometimes struggles with foul trouble, their guards need to be able to perform when their number is called. It’s not something that’s worked so far for Hopkins and company.
So where does Washington go from here? The Huskies are spiraling without a true point guard but don’t let their conference record distract you from the indiviual talents all over this roster. When Washington wants to be, this unit can be as good as any team in the league. When they’re not clicking though, it becomes a downright ugly mess.
Lucky for the Huskies, they’ll be squaring off with an equally erratic Oregon State on Thursday in a game that may finally reveal the true identities of both of these teams.
Player To Watch
Jaden McDaniels (Forward - Freshman)
With Isaiah Stewart gets most of the headlines for the Huskies - and rightfully so - it’s important to remember that Jaden McDaniels was also a five-star rated, top-ten recruit nationally, who was set to be part of the one-two punch for Washington that took the Pac-12 by storm. While McDaniels still gets it done with a 13.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG average, it’s his efficiency that usually leads to the Huskies success or detriment.
- Date: Thursday, January 16th
- Time: 8:00 PM PT
- Location: Alaska Airlines Arena (Seattle, WA)
- Coverage: Fox Sports 1