Stewart, McDaniels Set to Leave Basketball Limbo, Go Through NBA Draft

Former University of Washington players are projected as late first-round or early second-round draft picks.
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Seven months ago, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels left the University of Washington after their freshman seasons and put their names in the NBA draft, surprising no one.

What's been unexpected is they've both been in basketball limbo ever since.

The ongoing pandemic has pushed the pro draft from June 25 to October 16 and now to November 18.

Providing the last date holds up, Stewart and McDaniels should hear their names called out virtually the week after next, either as late first-round selections or as early second-round picks or one of each.

They haven't been able to work out for NBA teams because of the health crisis, leaving the pros to pore over game highlights and conduct virtual interviews. 

From his hometown of Rochester, New York, Stewart has been a little more visible than his former UW teammate, speaking on occasion to the local press. Despite the long lag in reaching the NBA, the 6-foot-9 forward remains resolute that he's ready for the pros and the pros should be ready for him. 

"I'm looking forward to playing at that level," Stewart said. "I feel like I can play in an NBA game tomorrow. I feel like I'm ready. I feel like my game fits the NBA game today. I'm confident in my game and what I bring to I'm looking forward to that level. I know it's going to be fun."

Stewart has been working out for several months under the supervision of basketball coach Scott Fitch from Fairport High School, located south of Rochester. The two previously worked together in USA Basketball. Stewart is not daunted at all by moving up a level. 

"I don't feel pressure," he said. "I've already played in front of a lot of people. A lot of scouts. Everybody has been seeing my game since I was in high school. So it's sort of like just showing up and doing what I got to do."

On the other hand, McDaniels has been far less visible than his fellow Husky, though he did show on a video clip with ESPN's Mike Schmitz in September and the two of them reviewed his college game.

McDaniels acknowledged that he's been speaking regularly to his brother Jalen about the challenges of pro basketball. The older sibling played at San Diego State, was a second-round NBA draft pick and has found himself playing in the NBA D-League at times. 

"He said to always play hard," Jaden McDaniels told Schmitz in the near half-hour video below. "That's something I've had to learn."

In the latest mock drafts, Stewart goes as high as 24th to the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Tankathon, while McDaniels is pegged as high as 17th to the Minnesota Timberwolves by Yahoo Sports.

Soon Stewart and McDaniels will have firm direction in the basketball worlds once more. Paychecks, too.

They'll find new homes shortly before the revamped Huskies begin play without them.

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