Washington freshman Isaiah Stewart is entering the 2020 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Wednesday.
“I plan on declaring for the 2020 NBA draft and signing with Roc Nation,” Stewart told ESPN in a phone call.
Stewart, the No. 26 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, was one of the most productive big men in college basketball, earning All-Pac-12 first-team honors as an 18-year old. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Stewart — who has a 7-foot-4 wingspan — averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game for the Huskies, shooting 59% from 2-point range and 77% from the free throw line.
“To be honest, this wasn’t the season I expected,” Stewart told ESPN. “I expected us to be better as a team. We went through a lot of things, losing our point guard, but we had a good run at the end.”
He also thanked Huskies coach Mike Hopkins for “all he taught me in a short amount of time.”
Stewart was one of the most decorated players in his high school class, entering Washington as the No. 4-ranked recruit in the ESPN 100 and winning the prestigious Naismith Trophy for national high school player of the year. He was invited to six USA Basketball events, winning a gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina while averaging 11 points and 8 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game.
“I take a lot of pride in winning national player of the year in high school. The list of guys that won that award is impressive,” Stewart said. “I feel like I am someone who can play in an NBA game tomorrow physically. With all the uncertainty about whether there will be a summer league or what type of offseason the NBA might have, it’s more important than ever to have a long body of work teams can look at. People already know my reputation and what my character is as a person. I’ll continue to show NBA teams that over video conferences, Skype, FaceTime or whatever it might be.”
Stewart finished the season on a strong note, posting 29 points and 12 rebounds against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament in front of a host of NBA general managers in what ended up being one of the last games on the college basketball calendar. He is back home in Rochester, New York, waiting to see what the NBA pre-draft process will look like.
The draft is scheduled for June 25, but following worldwide suspensions of basketball activities amid the coronavirus pandemic, NBA front-office executives and others in the industry told ESPN they are bracing for the potential impact of a delayed 2020 draft with a heavily reduced pre-draft process.
“It feels weird to be declaring for the draft with all this going on,” Stewart told ESPN. “I understand that there are bigger issues going on in the world, but I also want to let people know what my plans are. I’m just trying to make this as much of an opportunity as possible and try to gain whatever edge I can.”
Stewart said he is following a workout regimen, working with a nutritionist, watching film and reading a lot.
“It’s important to practice social distancing,” he said. “People are losing lives, and I am going to do anything I can to help the families that are going through this.”