Of course nothing is official until Jaylen Nowell announces his decision, but Mike Hopkins believes the Husky basketball star will “test the waters” and explore his NBA draft potential.
“I’m sure Jaylen will test the waters,” the Washington coach said Tuesday during an interview with KJR-radio. “He’s an NBA-caliber player. He’s an incredible kid.
“My goal with Jaylen is to obviously be able to give him the information. With information you can make great decisions. He’s earned an opportunity to test the waters, I’m sure.”
Hopkins didn’t go into great detail, but “test the waters” generally refers to several options early entrants can take to gauge their pro prospects while still maintaining their collegiate eligibility.
In 2016, the NCAA made sweeping changes to its early-entry rules that now allows players to attend the NBA combine and private team workouts between the NBA early-entry eligibility deadline on April 21 and 10 days after the conclusion of the May 14-19 NBA draft combine.
According to USA Today, 181 players declared for the draft early last year and 100 withdrew before the deadline. Forty-one players were drafted and 40 were undrafted and without NCAA eligibility.
Nowell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award while averaging 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals on 50.2 percent shooting from the field and 44.0 percent on three-pointers.
Nowell became the third Husky to win the conference player of year award, joining Brandon Roy (2006) and Chris Welp (1986).
“As a team, we made great progress from last year and personally, I got to expand my game too,” Nowell said after Sunday’s 81-59 defeat to North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament. “I’ve been a scorer my whole life, but this year I was asked to do more ball handling and direct the offense. Just being able to run an offense, that’s where I made my game develop the most.”
NBAdraft.net projects Nowell as the fourth pick in the second round while ESPN.com doesn’t include him among its top 100 draft prospects.
Last week, Nowell said he’ll consult with his family before making a decision on whether he’ll enter the draft with or without an agent, or stay in school.
However, early signs seem to suggest he’ll gauge his pro prospects.
“I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I would assume that,” Hopkins said. “My job as a head coach and an advisor for him would be, I’m here to make your dreams come true.
“If it’s the right time, then it’s the right time. I’m supporting him, Jaylen Nowell and his family 1,000 percent. It’s up to us to get him the right information. We’ll definitely do that in the next couple of months I’m sure.”
MCDANIELS SILENT ON RECRUITING
Federal Way High star Jaden McDaniels has been silent about his recruitment this week during practices leading up to the McDonald’s All-American game on Wednesday.
The 6-10 forward is one of five players in the game who remain undecided about their college future.
“I just don’t like talking about it,” McDaniels told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It’s just something I don’t talk about.”
McDaniels, who averaged 23.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals last season, took official visits to Washington, Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas and UCLA.
The signing period is April 17 to May 15.
“He don’t know,” said Isaiah Stewart, a McDonald’s All-American who verbally committed to UW. “And I’m not going to pressure him or bug him because I know how that feels. So I’m just going to let him rock and be a kid.”
AN EXTRA BLOCK FOR THYBULLE
Upon further review, the NCAA tournament stat crew retroactively awarded UW’s Matisse Thybulle with one extra block on Sunday and he officially had three in the loss to North Carolina. The 6-5 senior finished his career tied with Christian Welp for the most all-time blocks in UW history at 186.