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Originally published Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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UW Men's Basketball | Huskies still wait on Thomas

Today is the first day of the early letter-of-intent signing period for men's basketball, bringing with it a little more uncertainty than...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Today is the first day of the early letter-of-intent signing period for men's basketball, bringing with it a little more uncertainty than it did a year ago for the Washington Huskies.

Last year on this date, the Huskies could bask in the glow of a four-man recruiting class, led by Spencer Hawes, that was signed, sealed and delivered as promised and instantly rated as among the best in school history.

Today, while there could be four players who eventually end up at Washington, only two appeared sure things Tuesday.

The Huskies are expected to get letters today from small forward Justin Holiday of North Hollywood, Calif., and power forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning of South Kent, Conn.

But the status of guard Isaiah Thomas of Curtis High in Tacoma, who committed to UW last spring, is uncertain because of questions about his academics. The Huskies were also still waiting to hear Tuesday from forward Darnell Gant of Los Angeles, who was also said to be considering Oregon and Nevada.

Thomas said Tuesday afternoon that he likely won't sign a letter of intent now and will wait until the spring signing period. The early signing period ends Nov. 15.

There have been rumblings in the recruiting world for some time that Thomas is having academic issues, one reason the Huskies had commitments from more players than it appeared they have scholarships available.

His high-school coach, Lindsey Bemis, said that it won't be known until next week whether Thomas is eligible for this season.

Thomas said Tuesday, however, that his grade problems aren't as severe as has been rumored.

"I will be eligible for both [his senior season at Curtis and for the beginning of college in 2007]," he said.

But he was vague on why he wouldn't be signing now, saying only it was something he had to talk about with his parents and UW coaches.

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No matter when he signs, he said he plans on playing for Washington eventually and is not considering other schools.

Thomas could end up attending a prep school for a year after high school to work on his academics.

Of the two players UW seems certain to sign, Bryan-Amaning may be the most immediately important. The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder would provide depth up front in the event Spencer Hawes leaves after this season.

"He's a big, classical, power forward," said Frank Burlison, a noted recruiting expert for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Scout.com.

Bryan-Amaning is a native of England who moved to the United States to pursue a basketball career.

The 6-6, 170-pound Holiday has drawn comparisons to former UW star Bobby Jones though Burlison says "his shot is way better than Bobby Jones' was at this stage. He's not quite the athlete Bobby was but he's that kind of player."

Gant is a 6-8, 200-pounder from Crenshaw High.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

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