Huskies Pick Up Michigan's Cole Bajema, Second Local Recruit to Come Home
Coach Mike Hopkins had big-name freshmen recruits on the roster. A point guard from Kentucky. Seemingly everything he needed to make opponents uncomfortable.
Yet even before his playmaker fell victim to grades, it was clear Hopkins' Washington basketball team lacked outside shooters, one of the reasons it stumbled to a dispiriting 15-17 record.
The Husky leader apparently is making a concentrated to fill this gap, with Michigan's Cole Bajema announcing on Saturday night that he will transfer to Washington.
Bajema, a local kid from Lynden, Washington, is a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, the second outside marksman added to the roster this offseason.
Eric Stevenson, another shooter and locally produced player from Lacey, Washington, earlier made it known he would leave Wichita State for the Huskies.
Bajema and Stevenson each will have to sit out a season as a transfer unless the NCAA grants players one-time waivers to play immediately. A decision on this should come this week.
A one-time four-star recruit, Bajema played very little as a freshman. He was signed by former Wolverines coach John Beilein, but went unused by Beilein's successor, Juwan Howard.
Bajema, who played at Lynden Christian High School and picked Michigan over Washington and Virginia, appeared in just 10 games and averaged 2.6 points per outing for the Big Ten team.
Near the Canadian border, Lynden has been a small-town basketball mecca for decades, supplying the occasional major-college player.
Lynden High provided the UW with promising 6-10 center Todd Lautenbach, who became a Huskies starter (1988-91) only to have his career stymied by ongoing heart issues.
Dwayne Scholten, a rugged 6-9 forward, left Lynden Christian to play for Seattle Pacific University, become a starter at Washington State (1986-87) and enjoy a pro basketball career overseas.
Derric Croft, a 6-5 guard, went from Lynden High to Skagit Valley College to San Diego State, where he was one of the Aztecs' leading scorers (1993-94.)
Bajema, who became the town's most heralded basketball player ever after signing with Michigan, will attempt to resurrect his sterling reputation as an elite guard with Washington.
He won't be lacking for familiar faces in Seattle. His sister Kara is a 6-2 senior and an All-American volleyball player for the Huskies.