Nov. 9, 2005
SEATTLE - Fourth-year coach Lorenzo Romar's University of Washington men's basketball program received letters of intent Wednesday from four of the premier high school players in the West, including Seattle Prep center Spencer Hawes who headlines the quartet that has been ranked among the best recruiting classes in the nation by several analysts.
The signing class, arguably the best in school history, includes one player from the state of Washington, one from Oregon and two from California. Hawes is joined by forwards Quincy Pondexter (Fresno, Calif.) and Phil Nelson (Keizer, Ore.) along with guard Adrian Oliver (Modesto, Calif.).
The Scout.com website touted Washington's as the third-best recruiting class in the country with all four signees rated among the top-100 prep seniors. The four Husky signees formed the No. 5 class in both the Hoop Scoop and Bob Gibbon's All-Star Sports ratings and is ranked No. 8 by Rivals.com. UW is projected with the best signing class among Pac-10 schools for the second straight season.
"We're extremely happy to have signed this class," exclaimed Romar. "We feel that we got a great mixture of a winning mentality, high level of talent and high level of character with this group."
All-Star Sports labeled Hawes as the No. 2 high school player in the class of 2006, the top signee by any Pac-10 school.
Hawes was announced Sunday as the top prospect in the Best in the West poll of coaches and scouts conducted by the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He is the second straight No.1 Best in the West pick to sign with UW, joining 2005 top prospect Jon Brockman. The list of former Best in the West No. 1 selections includes current NBA stars Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce and Richard Jefferson.
Washington landed Hawes after a fierce recruiting battle with his other finalist, national champion North Carolina. Hawes averaged 16.8 points as a junior on the Seattle Prep team that included Martell Webster, a 2005 UW signee who was selected sixth by Portland in the NBA Draft. Hawes is the son of former Husky basketball player Jeff Hawes. His uncle, Steve Hawes, was a two-time All-American and Husky Hall of Fame inductee who played 10 seasons in the NBA.
"We are very fortunate to have who we feel is arguably the best big man in America at this level," Romar said of Hawes. "He is not only talented, but he has a lot of toughness. We think he embodies everything that Husky basketball is all about."
The Huskies signed another relative of a former NBA player in Pondexter whose uncle, Cliff, played three seasons with the Chicago Bulls. A senior at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., Pondexter was ranked fifth in the Best in the West ratings. The 6-foot-7 forward ranked No. 27 in the Scout.com national rankings, the seventh-highest small forward listed. He averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 rebounds as a junior.
"The timing is great to add Quincy to our program. He already is one of the top 30 or so players in the country, but yet has a tremendous upside," Romar remarked. "We feel he is tailor-made to play in our system."
One of the nation's finest long-range shooters, Nelson is a product of McNary High School. The 6-8 forward was labeled the nation's No. 25 prospect by FoxSports.com. Nelson was a first-team All-Oregon state selection last year.
"We have recruited one of the best shooters in the country in Phil Nelson," said Romar. "He is not just limited to being a shooter. He is an excellent passer and has a great feel for the game."
A 6-foot-3 point guard, Oliver was an All-Northern California selection after averaging 26.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a junior. His Modesto Christian squad posted a 27-7 record and advanced to the NorCal Division V final. Oliver was listed No. 64 nationally in the All-Star Sports rankings.
"Adrian could be the best all-around guard that we've recruited here," Romar declared. "He is an extremely complete guard who can shoot the three and play any position on the perimeter. He brings a high level of toughness and a winning attitude to our program."
The stellar recruiting class is another boost for a Washington program that brought in a top-10 group last year. UW is coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 berth last season. The Huskies tied their 68-year-old school record with 29 wins in 2005, won their inaugural Pac-10 Tournament championship and received their first No. 1 seed to the NCAA Tournament.
Washington begins the 2005-06 regular-season schedule on Sunday, Nov. 13 as host of the three-day BCA Classic. The Huskies open the eight-team tournament at 6 p.m. against Morgan State at Bank of America Arena.
Washington Men's Basketball Letter of Intent Signees
Center, 6-11, 225, Seattle, Wash. (Seattle Prep HS)
Forward, 6-8, 220, Keizer, Ore. (McNary HS)
Guard, 6-3, 180, Modesto, Calif. (Modesto Christian HS)
Forward, 6-7, 220, Fresno, Calif. (San Joaquin Memorial HS)