Wesley Yates III surprised many when the four-star prospect verbally committed to the Washington men’s basketball team, which gives the Huskies their first 2023 recruit.

“It’s been a long journey. Just a lot of trials and tribulations. It’s been a rough process,” Yates said during a Wednesday ceremony at his school Beaumont United High in Texas. “I just want to thank all of the coaches and all the coaches I’ve ever had. I just want to thank y’all for just believing in me to play on your teams and play the role that I did. Thank all of my friends and my boys who I’ll never forget. Thank y’all for supporting me even when I had some bad games or good games. Y’all supported me and stayed with me throughout.

“Enough of all of that talking. With all that being said, I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at the University of Washington.”

Yates, who is ranked No. 37 in the ESPN 100 for the 2023 class, chose UW over LSU, Texas, Auburn, Arkansas and Stanford.

It’s not often the Huskies pull a big-time hoops recruit out of South Texas, but Yates has several Northwest connections. His father was born in Seattle and his cousin is former Husky star Quincy Pondexter, who is entering his second year as a UW assistant.

“He has played where I want to go,” Yates told ESPN when asked about Pondexter. “He has given me some great advice that has helped my game. He has helped me simplify the game. I took out a lot of extra dribbles. It’s not about dribble moves, it’s about reading the game. Situation basketball. He has made the game easier for me.”

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Yates also said he immediately bonded with Hopkins during his official visit.

“I was in his office on my official visit,” Yates told 24/7 Sports about Hopkins. “He was grabbing me. He grabbed me super hard one time when we were talking. He was very energetic. He started doing pushups. (laughs) He’s real funny.”

Yates, a consensus top-40 prospect among the major recruiting sites, is Hopkins’ highest rated recruit since nabbing Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniel in 2019.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard compares favorably to Garfield High prodigy Jaylen Nowell and is expected to make an immediate impact much like the former Husky star who averaged 16.1 points during his two-year UW career and won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award as a sophomore in 2019.

Yates has the reputation of a three-level scorer who averaged 19.7 points last season as a junior for Beaumont United and led them to a second straight Class 5A Texas state title. During his three-year high-school career, the Timberwolves are 100-6.

This summer, Yates averaged 16.2 points and 3.2 rebounds on the Nike EYBL circuit with New Orleans-based Livon Fleur De Lis.

“They’re getting a bonafide bucket,” Yates told On3. “A player that has a true love for the game and will work his hardest to bring wins to the program. A player that comes from a winning background and one that will be a leader on and off the floor.”

Washington has five seniors who could return next year and currently has just one opening on the 2023-24 roster that’s slotted for Yates.