University of Washington

Four-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson signs with Huskies

Four-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson became the fourth player from Washington's 2018 recruiting class to sign with the Huskies.
Four-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson became the fourth player from Washington's 2018 recruiting class to sign with the Huskies. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Now that Washington is a full go on scholarships, the Huskies were able to move ahead with their 2018-19 plans Wednesday when four-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson signed his National Letter of Intent.

Penn-Johnson, who starred at Wasatch Academy (Utah), is one of five players who have either signed or are committed to the Huskies' 2018 recruiting class. The group is considered by 247 Sports to be the No. 5 class in the Pac-12 Conference and entered the 27th best in the nation.

“We’re very excited to add Bryan to our incoming class,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement. “You’re going to see a very skilled big man who has limitless potential and can become one of the best front court players in the country. He’s an elite level shot blocker who can get up and down the court quickly and will fit into our system perfectly not only on the court but off the court as well.

"He’s an impact player that adds another level to an already incredible class we have joining the Husky family next season.”

The 7-feet and 210-pound Johnson committed March 19 to UW after receiving offers from Arizona, Florida State, Kansas, Oregon and Utah among other programs. He was offered by 17 schools and narrowed his choices to DePaul and UW before he selected the Huskies during the team's second round NIT loss at Saint Mary's.

Penn-Johnson is the top college prospect in Utah. He's also the composite No. 7 center in the nation and considered to be the No. 98 player throughout the entire 2018 recruiting cycle.

His signing comes during college basketball's second National Signing Day of the 2017-18 academic calendar. There was an early signing period between Nov. 8 and Nov. 15, 2017 which saw the Huskies sign three players in Hopkins' first full recruiting class.

UW signed four-star small forward Jamal Bey, three-star point guard Elijah Hardy and three-star power forward Nate Roberts. The 6-6 and 200-pound Bey was named the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year after starring at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. Hardy, who is 6-2 and 170 pounds, is the 19th best player in California. Roberts, who is listed at 6-11 and 220 pounds, played at Brewster Academy (N.H.) where he was rated to be the No. 20 center in the nation.

The Huskies also have a commitment from three-star forward Ed Chang. He has yet to sign with UW but the 6-foot-7 and 180-pound Chang has until Aug. 1 to sign with should he be in Hopkins' plans for the upcoming 2018-19 season.

As UW waits for the Chang, the Huskies' 2018-19 roster is practically set although Hopkins is waiting to see what happens with star forward Noah Dickerson.

Dickerson, who will be a senior next season, is an All-Pac-12 first-team selection who declared in late March for the NBA Draft but did not sign with an agent. He has until June 11 to determine if he wants to keep his name in the draft or withdraw and return to Montlake for his final year.

The Huskies' signing class will bolster a roster that went 21-13 and flirted with the NCAA Tournament berth in Hopkins' first season. UW returns starters in point guard David Crisp, shooting guard Jaylen Nowell, swingman Matisse Thybulle and center Sam Timmins. Nowell was named a Pac-12 All-Freshman Team selection after leading the Huskies in scoring with 16.0 points. Thybulle became the first UW player to win the conference's Defensive Player of the Year for leading the conference in steals.

UW also returns key bench players in guard Nahziah Carter, guard Dominic Green and forward Hameir Wright for next season.

Getting situated for the 2018-19 season meant the program was a temporary standstill as it was trying to sort out its scholarship situation.

College basketball programs are allowed to have up to 13 scholarships. UW entered the offseason with all of its scholarships accounted for but needed to trim numbers in order to welcome its entire class.

Sophomore guard Carlos Johnson was the first player to transfer to give the Huskies one free spot. On Monday, picked up another spot when freshman guard Michael Carter III announced he was leaving UW. A day later, a school spokesperson told The News Tribune that sophomore guard Bitumba Baruti was granted his release and that his departure would give UW the full scholarship allotment needed to sign its entire recruiting class.

Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark
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