Rochester native Isaiah Stewart declares for NBA draft


Washington’s Isaiah Stewart reacts to scoring against Mount St. Mary’s late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, in Seattle. Washington won 56-46. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (WROC) — Isaiah Stewart, a former McQuaid basketball standout and freshman forward for University of Washington has declared for the NBA draft.

The Rochester native posted his intentions on social media Wednesday.

He spoke with sports director Thad Brown Wednesday afternoon and said it was a group decision between himself, his family and his head coach at Washington–Mike Hopkins.

“We all just came to the agreement it was best for me to take the next step in my career,” Stewart said.

Stewart also discussed the decision with Rochester’s other NBA player, Thomas Bryant. The current Washington Wizard agreed that Stewart was ready for the next level, but warned “there’s nothing but hard work up there.”

That’s fine with Stewart.

“I’m excited. I’m definitely going to cherish the moment, but I feel like this is where the real work begins,” Stewart said. “I feel like this is where you have to ask yourself, ‘am I really gonna do this?’ For me, this will become a job 24/7 and I’m going to treat it that way.”

All season long, Stewart has been locked in the first round of every 2020 NBA mock draft. He could even be a lottery pick.

Stewart was named to the All PAC-12 First Team, as well as the PAC-12 All Freshman Team in his first season of college ball.

The 6’9” freshman forward was a force for the Huskies all season. He averages 16.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, and nearly one assist per game on 56% shooting.

Stewart has started all 31 games for Washington and averaged 32.2 minutes per game. The Huskies, unfortunately, struggled to a 15-17 record, finished last in the Pac-12 and were bounced in the opening round of the conference tournament.

He attended McQuaid Jesuit High School two seasons before transferring to La Lumiere School, a national powerhouse for high school boys basketball, where he won the Naismith Boys Basketball Player of the Year Award in 2019.

Stewart paid respect to his hometown throughout the season at Washington. He was seen on camera shouting “5-8-5” after big buckets. It’s quite a journey for a kid who grew right in the heart of Rochester.

“Rochester means so much to me. 585 is way bigger than an area code,” Stewart said. “I really just want to make it for my city and give the young kids hope and just show them that you can do anything, anything you want as long as you put your mind to it.”

Stewart did not have a favorite NBA team growing up and does not care which team selects him.

He does hope there is a traditional draft and has the chance to shake Adam Silver’s hand on a stage with a baseball cap bearing the logo of his new team.

For now, he’s still in Seattle trying to stay in shape. He also makes sure to read every day. Currently, he’s turning the pages of Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life.

Stewart’s basketball fulfillment is, for now, scheduled to come June 25th.

“You guys watched me hit the scene as a skinny freshman at McQuaid and it just all took off from there,” Stewart said. “I feel like Rochester is always going to have my back. To come this far, especially being from Rochester, New York, I’m definitely proud of myself, but the work’s just getting started.”

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