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UW Didn't Make It to March Madness, but 3 Ex-Huskies Did

Husky Maven on FanNation logo Husky Maven on FanNation 3/14/2023 Dan Raley
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Trio of Mike Hopkins Montlake transfers advance to the postseason.

The NCAA Tournament begins this week and, of course, the University of Washington basketball team won't be involved. 

However, three former Huskies who played for embattled coach Mike Hopkins are involved in March Madness in Erik Stevenson and Emmitt Matthews Jr., now with West Virginia, and in RaeQuan Battle, who plays for Montana State.

Stevenson, a shooting guard who was part of the dismal 5-21 UW team of 2020-21, and Matthews, a Husky forward a year ago, will lead a ninth-seeded Mountaineers team (19-14) into a first-round pairing against No. 8-seeded Maryland (21-12) on Thursday morning in the South Regional in Birmingham, Alabama.

Battle, coming off a Big Sky Tournament MVP performance, returns to the NCAAs for a second consecutive year when his 14th-seeded Bobcats (25-9) meet No. 3 Kansas State (23-9) in the East Regional on Friday night in Greensboro, North Carolina. He left the UW following that same moribund 2020-21 season.

The 6-foot-4 Stevenson, a senior from Lacey, Washington, leads West Virginia in scoring with a 15.5 average. He's had games of 34 points against Oklahoma and 31 against Auburn. He's shot better than at any time of his college career, hitting 43.8 percent from the floor and 38.1 from 3-point range.

At his fourth school, after playing for Wichita State, the UW and South Carolina, Stevenson butted heads during the season with Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, an iron-fisted leader who warned his mercurial player about his sketchy on-court behavior, suggesting they would part ways if it didn't improve.

The 6-foot-7 Matthews, a senior from Tacoma, Washington, averages 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in his second tour with West Virginia in his usual support role. He played three seasons for the Mountaineers spending last year at the UW and then returning to Huggins and Company.

Battle, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Tulalip, Washington, has had a career renaissance in the Big Sky. He started all 34 games and tops Montana State in scoring with a 17.4 average while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 34.5 from 3-point range.

Early in the season, he had a 20-point game against Oregon and 17 against Arizona. 

Battle was named MVP of the Big Sky Tournament after leading the Bobcats to victories over Northern Colorado, Weber State and Northern Arizona in Boise, scoring 21, 17 and 25 in the title game.

A year ago, Battle came off the bench in a reserve role over 35 games for Montana State, averaging 8.5 points. He has another season left to play in Bozeman.

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