Erik Stevenson Leaving Wichita State for Washington, Brings Shooting Touch
Shooting guard Erik Stevenson will transfer to Washington and play basketball again in his home state, leaving Wichita State among a mass exodus of players at the Kansas school.
Stevenson tweeted out "Woof" to confirm on Wednesday afternoon that he was joining the Huskies. Ex-UW guard Isaiah Thomas got in on the breaking news by tweeting out the following message.
Reached on Wednesday night, Stevenson indicated in a text message that UW coach Mike Hopkins was the main reason he picked the Huskies over a group of high-level suitors who included Gonzaga, Oregon, San Diego State and Maryland.
"Hopkins is my guy," he said in the text. "We've always had a good relationship. I wanted to rock with him out of high school but it was bad timing when he took the job."
Stevenson committed to Wichita State as a junior at Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington. He bypassed the Huskies, LSU, Utah and WSU for the Shockers, who had grown into a national program, advancing to the Final Four in 2013.
"Coming home to play in front of family and friends is a plus, but coach Hop has a plan in store for me to be successful with this team and I really believe in it because I know I can do it," Stevenson said. "He knows, too, which is huge. Having a coach that believes in me was one of the factors I was looking for."
If the transfer goes through as planned, and the NCAA liberalizes the eligibility rules as expected, the 6-foot-3, 198-pound guard will be eligible to play for the Huskies next season. If not, he'll have to sit out a year.
It is hoped that Stevenson will make a vast improvement in the UW's 3-point shooting, which was horrendous at times and enabled opponents to blanket sensational freshman post player Isaiah Stewart.
Want to see how bad it was? Watch the accompanying video of warm-ups and all the clanks.
Stevenson, who started 32 games in two seasons at Wichita State, leaves a program reeling from the transfer of as many as seven players, all voicing various drawbacks following a 23-8 season considered a downer. He averaged 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
The Shockers experienced a season somewhat similar to Washington's -- great start, bad finish -- where they opened 15-1 and fell apart, going 8-7 to close.
Stevenson lost confidence in his game and his starting job, and butted heads with Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, who is best described as old school.
The shooter hit just 37 percent of his shots from the field and a shakier 30.4 percent from 3-point range (51 of 168), unable to regroup the way he wanted. He had a career high of 29 points against Ole Miss, but went scoreless in a pair of games.
"Coach and I didn't have a great relationship," Stevenson told the Wichita Eagle Beacon. "Obviously we didn't mesh. That's probably the biggest reason why I'm leaving. I've got to find a better relationship and a better situation."
If he wants to be loved rather than castigated on the court, he's coming to the right place in Washington. Hopkins doesn't hide the fact that he's a player's coach, preferring a softer leadership approach.
Stevenson led the Timberline Blazers to a 2018 fourth-place state tournament finish while earning most valuable player honors. He averaged 24.7 points as a senior.
His father, Craig, played basketball for the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and overseas.
Stevenson won't be the the only newcomer for the Huskies. Washington should have a number of scholarships available after going through a difficult 15-17 season.
Stewart and fellow freshman Jaden McDaniels are expected to pursue early NBA draft entry. Senior big man Sam Timmons has used up his eligibility. Others, including academically ineligible point guard Quade Green, could choose not to return.
He also hopes to wear No. 10, which currently belongs to junior point guard Elijah Hardy.