Chriss Already Showing His Worth

The University of Washington Basketball team has quietly put together one of the top 2015 recruiting classes in the country - number five, to be exact if we’re using’s most recent rankings. One of the three players that currently makes up UW’s 2015 class is Marquese Chriss, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward from Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, Calif.

A year ago, Chriss wore a t-shirt underneath his jersey, but now he’s 25 pounds heavier so that t-shirt is long gone. One of the biggest reasons for Chriss’s growth? He found the weight room. “I just feel my body grew into it a little more, I feel more comfortable,” Chriss recently told “I don’t feel awkward and skinny anymore.”

Chriss was targeted early by Washington’s coaches and they earned a verbal commitment in January before the NorCal power forward’s game took a big step up. He made enough of an impression this spring and summer during the AAU circuit that he was one of 24 players invited by USA Basketball to Colorado Springs, Colorado to try out for the USA U18 team. “I didn’t make the final list, but everyone said I was pretty memorable when I went up there and I played well and made some good plays,” said Chriss, who added that he also didn’t play much with the U17 team because of his knees. “I’ve had tendonitis for about six to seven months now and it can get pretty bad,” he said. “So I only practiced two out of the four times.”

Is the tendonitis something Washington fans should be concerned about? No, according to Chriss. “It’s more from overuse,” he said. “I had played so much and hadn’t taken any time off.”

The U18 practices, according to Chriss, was unlike anything he’s ever done before on a court. “They were real tough,” he said. “It’s just embracing the competition, I guess - setting yourself amongst other players and realizing you’re there for a reason. At the end of the day it’s just basketball. Somebody could be better than you but if you play harder you can end up showing them out.”

So what did Chriss learn during his time in Colorado Springs? “I’ve got to be aggressive and hustle on every play, pretty much - and play to my strengths instead of doing things that I don’t need to,” he said.

Despite the meteoric rise in Chriss’s recruiting stock the past six months, colleges continue to respect his verbal commitment to the Huskies. “I haven’t talked to anyone lately,” he said. “It’s kind of like…I feel schools back off as respect. Even if I haven’t signed, it’s still a commitment, and people respect it.”

Chriss continued to reiterate today the same narrative when he initially declared his intent to become a Dawg. “I was glad when I committed because I kinda felt like it was a big relief to have a weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I felt comfortable. Everyone was like, oh it’s so early! But in my eyes it was perfect timing because I committed and then I get to focus on my junior season and now I get to focus on everything else and live my high school life.

“It was stressful just for those couple months. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, people coming and talking to you and if you don’t remember certain things it can get complicated. You have to digress and backtrack and talk about things you’ve already talked about. It’s sometimes an uncomfortable situation.”

He added that he plans on traveling to Seattle in September on an unofficial visit. His family continues to back the decision to go UW. “My Stepdad is from Seattle so he was pushing for it hard,” Chriss said. “My Mom, she likes it and she really likes Coach Romar a lot. She thought he would be a good person that I could grow around and she would be comfortable with me going and being around him all the time.”

How often does Chriss keep in touch with the UW coaches? “I was going to call T.J. (Otzelberger) back today, but I’ve been sick a couple days,” he said. “I’m going to talk to him. I talked to (Lorenzo) Romar a couple weeks ago and I’ve been texting him.”

What have the UW coaches been telling Chriss? “They want to see me grow more as a person,” he said. “Sometimes during camps I can be emotional and unstable and get mad and down on myself. They want me to become a more all-around player and grow within myself and improving my game.”

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