Despite Isaiah Stewart Push For Washington, Jaden McDaniels Remains Open

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — As soon as he committed to Washington on ESPN on Sunday night, Isaiah Stewart reached out to his top recruiting target.

Stewart exchanged texts with Jaden McDaniels and let him know he wants McDaniels to join him at the Pac-12 school next season.

Stewart's message?

"Bro, we could get a championship, do great things," McDaniels said Stewart texted him. "So I'm just listening to him."

Both players rank among the top 10 in the Class of 2019 recruiting rankings, and both are projected top-10 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, per ESPN.com.

"When he recruits me, everything sounds good," the 6-foot-11 McDaniels said after being held to 10 points in Federal Way's 73-63 loss to Ranney (N.J.) at the Hoophall Classic. The game was a matchup of the No. 9 team in the USA Today poll (Ranney) and the No. 15 team in Federal Way.

"I feel like it would be crazy [at Washington] because they have [Kentucky transfer] Quade [Green], too, so I feel it would be something people haven't seen before."

Washington alum Isaiah Thomas also Tweeted at McDaniels to support the recruiting effort.



The Seattle native also said he would be "super comfortable" at Washington "because everybody there I know. I'm just around them all the time so I feel that would be a good situation."

Still, McDaniels is also considering Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, and UCLA and said he probably won't focus on his recruitment until the spring.

"I don't even know right now, probably toward the end of our season," he said.

He's taken his five official visits and said he doesn't think he'll take any more visits.

"I'm over with visits probably," he said.



As for Kentucky, John Calipari and Tony Barbee watched him play in Brooklyn in December and they remain in regular touch.

"Yeah, I talk to them all the time," McDaniels said. "They're shooting me texts like we're watching, we would love to have you and stuff like that."

Kentucky has already missed out on bigs James Wiseman (Memphis), Vern Carey (Duke), and Stewart (Washington) and are in desperate need of bigs for next year.

"Yeah, they just tell me if you come it's not going to be given to you, you just gotta work for everything," McDaniels said.

For what it's worth, McDaniels said Wiseman is the best player in the Class of 2019.

"He's 7-foot, he can do everything," he said. "He can shoot the ball well, dribble, he's just a versatile player."

UCLA recently fired head coach Steve Alford and will conduct a national coaching search, but McDaniels hasn't been following it.

"I didn't even know that the coach was gone," he said. "It's crazy, I don't even really pay attention to that."

He said he's still considering UCLA, though.

His brother Jalen attends San Diego State and "they're still in the picture," he said. "That's another comfortable spot, I know everybody and I have good relationships with everybody there."

Texas has produced a slew of NBA big men — including Mohamed Bamba — and McDaniels would follow in that line.

"Shaka [Smart] was at one of my games before we came here," he said. "We were just talking, he was saying he would love to have me. He said whenever I could come down, I could come hang out."

The NBA G League will offer $125,000 to select high school players next season, but McDaniels isn't thinking of going in that direction and instead wants the college experience.

"Not really," he said. "I hear about people trying to do it and stuff like that but I haven't really paid that much attention to it."

In the shorter term, he hopes to be named on Thursday to the McDonald's All-American Game set for March 27 in Atlanta.

"I hope so," he said. "That would make my day to get that call."


Adam Zagoria is a basketball insider who runs ZAGSBLOG.com and contributes to The New York Times. Follow Adam on Twitter.

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