The NCAA’s spring signing period closed Wednesday without a resolution to Jaden McDaniels’ recruitment.
The Federal Way High star, who is a national top-10 prospect and a projected NBA draft lottery pick in 2020, has kept everyone guessing about where he’ll play basketball next season. No public announcement came on social media or from a school as of 11 p.m. Wednesday night. The deadline to sign a letter of intent was midnight.
McDaniels narrowed his list to Washington, Kentucky, San Diego State, UCLA and Texas.
And reportedly, the Wildcats and Huskies have emerged as the finalists.
“I’m just taking it all in,” McDaniels said last month in Tualatin, Ore., during a practice with the Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summit. “Seeing if coaches get fired or if people are staying instead of rushing it so I can make the right choice.”
While others have pushed him to make a decision, the McDonald’s All-American is taking his time.
“Jaden is an interesting kid,” Rivals basketball analyst Eric Bossi said. “We’re in an era where most of these guys crave as much attention as humanly possible, but he’s a very quiet kid and not an attention-seeker at all.
“I saw him at the end of April in Las Vegas at the Jordan Brand Classic and was kind of joking with him and was like you’re just going to show up somewhere. And I almost feel like that is what’s going to happen.”
The spring period to sign a national letter of intent began April 17 and closed Wednesday.
During that time, the Huskies secured five-star forward Isaiah Stewart, who joined a UW 2019 class that includes RaeQuan Battle, a four-star forward from Marysville-Pilchuck, and Marcus Tsohonis, a three-star guard from Portland.
However in recent years, some elite high-school stars have opted to sign a financial aid agreement.
Signing a national letter of intent binds the school and the athlete to that agreement for a year. In some cases, an athlete can appeal to be let out of agreement, but there are no guarantees.
Meanwhile, a financial agreement must be honored by schools, but the athlete can opt out at any time without penalties.
“When you’re an elite prospect, there’s not really a hurry for you to make a college choice because Jaden McDaniels knows that wherever he goes to school they’re going to have a scholarship waiting for him,” said Evan Daniels, 247Sports director of basketball recruiting. “And I think each of the schools that recruited him probably relayed that message.”
McDaniels suitors will wait on the 6-foot-10 and 185-pound smooth-shooting forward who averaged 23.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals while drawing favorable comparisons to Kevin Durant.
Not long ago McDaniels was in the running for the No. 1 overall spot in the national rankings.
In their final 2019 rankings, ESPN and Rivals have him at No. 7 and 247Sports has him at No. 8.
“He had an up-and-down year,” Daniels reportedly said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of talent there, but he’s going to have to get more consistent with his effort, with his jump shot and compete at a higher level more often.”
Bossi believes Washington is the favorite to land McDaniels while Daniels thinks he’ll pick Kentucky.
“I feel pretty confident that it will be Washington or Kentucky, but which way it will be I really don’t know,” Bossi said. “And I don’t think anybody has the greatest idea because Jaden is quiet, he’s got a small circle around him and he’s just not caught up in the extra stuff.”