When it came time to decide where to play his college ball, Isaiah Stewart went with the connection he developed at Syracuse.
And it led him to Seattle.
Stewart announced he will be attending the University of Washington for his college ball. He chose the Huskies over Duke, Syracuse, Kentucky and Michigan State.
The former McQuaid star said the relationship with former Syracuse assistant and current Washington head coach Mike Hopkins played a major role.
“I’m a big relationship guy,” Stewart said. “Me and coach Hopkins go way back from when I was a freshman. He’s a coach I trust to push me harder, help me accomplish my goals. I’m looking forward to going there, winning games, being a sponge, soaking up everything.”
Stewart was among the top five recruits in the country and coveted by every big time school. He said when Hopkins moved from Syracuse to Washington, it changed a lot about his college plans.
“Coach Hopkins, he was different. He wanted to go out west and start his own legacy. That’s the type of player I am. I take my own path. I like to work hard, prove people wrong,” Stewart said.
Stewart played two seasons at McQuaid before moving to La Lumiere Prep (Indiana) for his junior season.
The announcement was made Sunday evening on ESPN during halftime of the Oak Hill Academy-IMG Academy game at the Hoophall classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. That’s the site of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Stewart made his choice with his parents standing behind him. Stewart gave them the credit for developing his work ethic.
“My dad being a hard construction worker, seeing him ashy from doing the jackhammer, things like that motivate me,” Stewart said. “He’s been picking fruit, beating up his body just have a roof, food on the table.”
Stewart’s father came to Florida from Jamaica and moved to Rochester about 25 years ago. The trip from Jamaica to Rochester is a bit more than 1,700 miles by air.
Now, he’ll send his son across the country almost 1,000 miles longer.
“I have a great support system behind me and I know they’re behind me 100%,” Stewart said. “I thank them for that.”