Mike Hopkins is getting a lot of mileage out of Husky homecomings.
Last year, the Washington men’s basketball coach gladly welcomed the return of a quartet of former Seattle-area high-school stars who transferred to UW and led the revival of a downtrodden program that finished 17-15 and tied for fifth in the Pac-12. last season.
Once again, the Huskies began an influx of what’s expected to be a handful of 2022 transfers with a familiar name… Noah Williams.
The former O’Dea High standout has spent the past three seasons at Washington State where he averaged 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals while starting 65 out of 91 games.
Williams, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, will have two years of eligibility considering the NCAA has granted players an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Williams announced he was leaving WSU via Instagram.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the opportunity and ability to wake up and play the beautiful game of basketball each day,” Williams said. “From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Coach (Kyle) Smith and the entire WSU Cougar family for showing me nothing but love and support my last 3 years out here in Pullman.
“A huge thank you to all my family, friends and teammates for the unconditional love and support that you have given me from day one! With that being said, I am entering my name into the transfer portal. ”
Back in 2019, Williams was a four-star recruit and the state’s No. 5 ranked prospect behind Jaden McDaniels, Anton Watson, PJ Fuller and RaeQuan Battle.
Washington’s highly touted 2019 recruiting class included McDaniels, Battle, Isaiah Stewart and Marcus Tsohonis, while Williams chose WSU where his father Guy Williams played for two years.
Williams established himself as a defensive stalwart as a true freshman and had a breakout sophomore season when he averaged 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 38% on three-pointers and starting all 27 games.
There was plenty of buzz about Williams garnering all-Pac-12 honors heading into his junior season, which began with him presumably serving a team suspension stemming from an alleged altercation with bouncers at a Pullman bar last September.
Williams, then 20, had attempted to use a fake ID to enter Valhalla Bar and Grill and faced two fourth-degree assault charges and two misdemeanors.
The Whitman County Prosecutors’ Office recently declined to pursue misdemeanor assault charges and ruled that Williams must perform eight hours of community service, pay a $ 500 fine and maintain good behavior for eight months for attempting to enter a bar using false identification.
On the court, Williams’ production regressed, which led to a reduction in minutes and a smaller role. He averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 26.2% from long range and starting 25 of 35 games last season.
Williams is the second high-profile addition to Washington, which signed four-star recruit and Garfield High guard Koren Johnson on Sunday.
Adding Williams and Johnson will help the Huskies mitigate the loss of departing seniors Terrell Brown Jr. and Daejon Davis.
Washington still has 2-4 open spots on the roster depending on if seniors Jamal Bey and Emmitt Matthews Jr. return for an extra year. Assuming everyone stays, UW’s starting lineup appears to be Fuller, Williams, Bey, Matthews and possibly forward Langston Wilson.
Weeks ago, Hopkins acknowledged the Huskies would search the transfer portal for big men and coveted Utah Valley center Fardaws Aimaq, who is considered one of the top transfers available, reportedly visited UW last week.
The Spokesman-Review contributed to this report.