Federal Way star Jalen McDaniels (H/T Tacoma News Tribune)
2018-19 marks the first year we will be covering Washington state’s Federal Way Eagles, and quite frankly, Jaden McDaniels is the reason why. A consensus top-five player in America, McDaniels will lead a veteran group that will have their eyes on a 4A state championship after losing in the state championship a year ago. Offensively speaking, head coach Jerome Collins will filter everything through his do-it-all swingman, and that should lead to a lot of wins, and a preseason ranking in the top 25.
The 6-foot-10, 200-pound McDaniels will operate as the clear-cut best player in the state. McDaniels blew up during the spring and summer in the EYBL, guiding Seattle Rotary Style to their first Peach Jam bid since 2012. In 21 games against the nation’s top competition, McDaniels averaged 18.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 48.3% from the floor. He is constantly in the gym with the west coast’s top trainers, and he works super hard, making it very likely that we’ve yet to see the best McDaniels has to offer in 2018. Anything short of a McDonald’s All-American bid would be a disappointment for McDaniels, who is undoubtedly one of the best prospects to ever come out of Washington.
McDaniels has a lot of talent surrounding him, starting with returning senior and fellow team captain Jalen Womack. The 6-foot point guard will play a big role for the Eagles, as will incoming instant-impact transfers Pierre Crockrell Jr. and Tari Eason - both top 100 recruits. Crockrell, a 6-foot senior, will be just as vital to the Eagles’ backcourt as Womack and has a strong chance to lead the backcourt in scoring. Eason, a 6-foot-8 junior, will team with senior swingman Jishai Miller to form an impressive, veteran-laden starting five. The Eagles have a nice balance, featuring five seniors and five juniors on their roster.
The Eagles will test themselves early and often in 2018-19, with both in and out of state competition. They will undoubtedly have a target on their backs, meaning night in and night out, they’ll be getting their opponent’s best shot. McDaniels will have a chance to put up some monstrous numbers alongside a much-improved supporting cast, and it wouldn’t surprise us if Federal Way worked their way into a top ten ranking.