After one turbulent and often times polarizing season at Washington, Jaden McDaniels is leaving the Huskies and turning pro.
“I’m extremely excited to announce that I will be entering the NBA Draft!” McDaniels posted on his Twitter account Tuesday night. “Go Dawgs! Mac out!”
Two weeks ago, Washington freshman forward Isaiah Stewart declared for the NBA draft and it was widely expected that McDaniels was also going to opt for the one-and-done route.
The 6-foot-9 and 200-pound forward is projected as the No. 15 overall pick going to Orlando, according to NBAdraft.net. Meanwhile, ESPN tabs him at No. 16 on its list of top 100 draft prospects.
“Interesting blend of size, length and agility … with an 8-11 standing reach,” ESPN’s Mike Schmitz wrote in a scouting evaluation. “Can play above the rim in space with relative ease.
“Not the most consistent shooter. Has his wow moments but still finding his elite skill. Scouts see him as more of a long-term prospect.”
McDaniels was one of the most productive Huskies whose effectiveness was sometimes undermined by bouts of erratic play.
The former Federal Way High star, who was ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals and ESPN among the 2019 recruits, averaged 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 31.1 minutes.
However, he finished second in the Pac-12 with 100 turnovers (2.2 per game) and first in the league in personal fouls (103), technical fouls (six) and disqualifications (eight).
McDaniels started 20 of the first 21 games he played, but came off the bench in nine of the last 10. He sat out a game due to a calf injury and appeared in 31 contests.
The move to the bench didn’t necessarily diminish McDaniels’ production.
In Washington’s last win – a 69-63 upset victory at Arizona – McDaniels finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the floor, six rebounds and three blocks to offset three turnovers in 32 minutes.
“We were so lucky to have Jaden as a Husky this year,” coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement released by UW. “He gave everything to this university and our program. Jaden chose to stay home and play for his home team. He believed in us and put on for his city.”
And yet despite oversized expectations, the Huskies had a nine-game losing streak that tied for the second longest in school history and finished last in the Pac-12 at 5-13 and 15-17 overall.
“I want to thank that University of Washington for embracing me and my family and giving me another place to call home,” McDaniels said via Twitter. “A huge thank you to Coach Hopkins, the entire coaching staff, tutors, trainers, student managers and my teammates.
“I will forever treasure the memories we created.”
Stewart and McDaniels join a long list of UW players who have left school early and were chosen in the draft including: Markelle Fultz (2017), Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss (2016), Terrance Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. (2012), Isaiah Thomas (2011), Spencer Hawes (2007) and Nate Robinson (2005).
Without Stewart and McDaniels, the Huskies are losing two stars who were first and second respectively on the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. Washington is expected to bring back four starters and six of its top eight scorers, including junior guard Nahziah Carter, who averaged 12.2 points, and sophomore point guard Quade Green, who averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists before missing the last 17 games due to an academic suspension.
The Huskies will also add sophomore forward J’Raan Brooks, who sat out last season after transferring from USC, former Wichita State guard Erik Stevenson and junior-college transfer Nate Pryor.
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