University of Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar Wednesday announced the signing of five top recruits, two of them members of ESPN’s Top 50 for 2017, 6-foot-9, five-star forward Michael Porter Jr., originally from Columbia, MO., and Daejon Davis, a 6-3 ,four-star guard from Seattle’s Garfield High School.
The class also includes Jaylen Nowell, a four-star, 6-5 guard from Garfield; four-star, 6-3 guard Blake Harris from Chapel Hill, NC., and Mamoudou Diarra, a 6-9 power forward originally from Mali in West Africa.
The class is ranked second overall by ESPN, third by Scout.com, and is the second top-10 class Romar has brought in over the past three years, as well as the third top-20 class in as many seasons.
“This is a group that will complement the rest of our team and fill needs that we are missing while reinforcing other positions,” said Romar. “This class will join a talented team with an extensive amount of collegiate playing experience and will give us as complete of a roster as we’ve had in the 15 years that we’ve been here.
“It also gives us three consecutive years of high-level recruiting, which was much needed due to the fact that we had to start over in terms of filling our roster. There is not one scholarship player currently that was on our roster who was on scholarship two years ago. This gives us an extremely solid foundation to move forward and continue to build our program.”
Porter, who plays for Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School, is ranked second overall by ESPN and fifth by Scout, and comes to UW with extensive experience on national teams. He was a member of Team USA’s U18 FIBA Americas Championship team, and also a member of the 2015-16 USA Men’s Junior National team.
“Michael is the type of player that doesn’t come around very often,” said Romar. “It’s a once in a while situation where you’re able to get a player with his size and skill set. He’s just an elite, elite talent . . . At 6-9, he has a phenomenal jump shot but is also able to put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself and others.”
Davis is ranked as the No. 43 player overall by ESPN in the class of 2017 and 45th according to Scout.com. Davis was one of 18 finalists for the 2016 USA Basketball U17 World Championship team and a member of the 2015-16 USA Men’s Junior National team. Davis transferred to Garfield as a junior.
“Daejon is another local kid that we’ve been recruiting for a while,” said Romar. “He will be one of the few freshmen that come in from day one with the understanding of how to play defense at this level. He is also leader and proven winner.”
Nowell has also been an a member of Team USA Basketball, earning the gold medal at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He was also part of the 2016 USA U17 World Championship training camp and the 2015-16 USA Men’s Junior National team. As a junior at Garfield, he led the team with 17.4 ppg and added 4.1 rpg.
“Jaylen really knows how to score and will become a really good defender as well,” said Romar. “We’ve been watching him for a long time and he just really understands the game.”
Harris is regarded as the No. 3 player in North Carolina.
“Blake is probably as fast of a guy with the ball that we’ve had play for us in a long time,” said Romar. “Blake is an elite passer and we believe one of the most underrated point guards in the country.”
Diarra will arrive in Seattle after spending time at Saint Louis Christian in Missouri and 22 FT Academy in South Carolina. Diarra was one of nine African-born players invited to the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Camp.
“At 6-9 with a 7-2 wingspan, Mamoudou Diarra is very skilled and plays with a high motor,” said Romar. “Even though he is probably the most under-the-radar signee of the five, he still has a tremendous upside.”