The Washington men’s basketball team whiffed on several of the state’s top 2021 recruiting targets, but was able to secure prized big man Jackson Grant to avoid what would have been a recruiting disaster.
The 6-foot-9, 205-pound center from Olympia High was expected to sign with UW on Wednesday at the start of the early-signing period, which ends Nov. 18. UW hasn’t officially announced the signing, but Olympia High’s Twitter account posted a photo of Grant signing his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday morning.
Grant is a four-star prospect who is ranked 38th nationally by ESPN.com. Meanwhile, Rivals.com lists him 71st in the country and 24/7.com has him at No. 106.
Nearly a year ago, Washington snagged a commitment from Grant, who also had scholarship offers from Stanford, California, Wisconsin and Oklahoma.
As a junior, Grant averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds while leading Olympia to a fourth-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament last season.
It was tantamount for Washington to pick up Grant considering it’s not projected to secure another marquee prep prospect and is unlikely to add more high-school recruits during the early-signing period.
The regular signing period is April 14 to May 19.
The Huskies’ recruiting fortunes took a dramatic downturn when Paolo Banchero, the state’s top prospect and a five-star recruit at O’Dea High, verbally committed to Duke nearly three months ago.
Banchero had been linked to Washington for years, considering his mother Rhonda was a three-time all-Pac-10 center at UW and his father Mario played football for the Huskies.
However, Banchero leads a list of several top local recruits who are leaving the state.
Eastside Catholic standout guard Shane Nowell picked Arizona and opted not to follow in the path of his older brother Jaylen, who starred at UW.
Nowell’s former Crusaders teammate Nolan Hickman, a four-star point guard, is headed to Kentucky and Battle Ground High standout Kaden Perry chose Gonzaga.
Washington’s recruiting 2021 class is ranked eighth in the Pac-12, according to 24/7, which is a dramatic decline from 2019 when the Huskies were third in the conference and 10th nationally.
Oregon’s 2021 recruiting haul ranks first in the Pac-12, according 24/7. USC, Arizona, Colorado, Stanford and UCLA round out the top six.
The bottom half of the rankings includes (in order) Arizona State, UW, Washington State and Oregon State. California and Utah are not ranked.
Including seniors Nahziah Carter and Hameir Wright, Washington currently has 11 players on scholarship, which is two fewer than the NCAA limit.
However, Carter’s availability is uncertain because he’s been suspended from the team for violating the Intercollegiate Athletics student code of conduct.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring and winter athletes, but individual schools will decide on expanding roster sizes and scholarships.