University of Washington

Here's why Michael Carter III's transfer is one of the most vital moves of UW's offseason

Washington Huskies freshman guard Michael Carter III announced Monday he was transferring away from the program.
Washington Huskies freshman guard Michael Carter III announced Monday he was transferring away from the program.

Freshman guard Michael Carter III's decision to transfer Monday is the latest and potentially most significant move in what's been an active offseason for the Washington Huskies.

The former O'Dea High star, who averaged 1.3 points over 7.4 minutes, becomes the second player to announce he's leaving the program. Sophomore guard Carlos Johnson is also leaving. The figure is expected to rise to three should sophomore guard Bitumba Baruti choose to transfer. He played 17 games under Lorenzo Romar but did not feature a single game in Mike Hopkins' first season.

With Carter and Johnson transferring, it frees up two scholarships. Should Baruti leave, it would give the Huskies three scholarships and the flexibility to sign its entire five-person recruiting class in addition to keeping all eight returners from last year's team that finished 21-13.

"After a lot of thought, consideration, and discussion with my family I feel that it's best I get my release and transfer from the University of Washington," Carter said in a release on Twitter. "I would like to thank Coach Hop and the coaching staff for the opportunity to play for their program and helping me become a better player as well as a young man."

How UW would sort its scholarship situation was one of the bigger questions the Huskies faced this offseason. Division I college basketball programs can offer up to 13 and the Huskies were facing something of a numbers crunch. They were set to return at least seven players including four starters in David Crisp, Jaylen Nowell, Matisse Thybulle and Sam Timmins.

It could rise to eight should junior forward Noah Dickerson, an All-Pac-12 First Team selection, return for his senior year. Dickerson announced in late March he was declaring for the NBA Draft but would explore the process without hiring an agent. He has until June 11 to determine if he wants to pursue the draft or return to school.

Hopkins and his staff signed three players for their 2018 class in four-star small forward Jamal Bey, three-star point guard Elijah Hardy and three-star power forward Nate Roberts. UW has two commitments from four-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson and three-star forward Ed Chang. Penn-Johnson and Chang have yet to sign a National Letter of Intent with the Huskies.

UW's 2018 class is considered by 247 Sports to be the No. 5 class in the Pac-12 Conference and the 27th best incoming group in America.

Assuming Dickerson returns, the Huskies would be at 11 scholarships with the addition of Bey, Hardy and Roberts. But by Carter leaving the program, it frees up a 12th scholarship. Baruti's potential departure gives UW a 13th scholarship and the freedom to sign Penn-Johnson and Chang for next season.

Carter, who's lone offer was from San Francisco, was Hopkins' first commitment when he arrived to Montlake after spending more than 20 seasons as a Syracuse assistant. The class also consisted of Nowell along with composite three-stars in guard Nahziah Carter and foward Hameir Wright.

Michael Carter III's UW tenure was marred by missing six-to-eight weeks with a fractured hand. He eventually returned and was used as a backup point guard to relief junior David Crisp.

The 6-foot-4 guard's strongest stretch came when he averaged more than 10 minutes in three straight games against California, Stanford and at Utah. He scored a career-high nine points against the Utes but saw his playing time stay under 10 minutes over the rest of the regular season and into the Huskies' run to the NIT second round.

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark