Isaiah Stewart, a throwback 6-foot-9 forward out of upstate Rochester, isn’t the type who aspires to drive a fancy sports car. But his University of Washington head coach, Mike Hopkins, thinks
Isaiah Stewart, a throwback 6-foot-9 forward out of upstate Rochester, isn’t the type who aspires to drive a fancy sports car.
But his University of Washington head coach, Mike Hopkins, thinks Stewart is already a Ferrari — comparing his ferocious play to the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell.
“He’s got a motor like a Ferrari,’’ Hopkins told The Post. “It’s the relentlessness. He just plays so hard. He reminds me of a bigger version of Montrezl and a little Bam Adebayo. Probably not as skilled as Bam because he could handle it, but the same motor. It’s a relentlessness you can’t teach. It’s a mindset.’’
According to sources, the broad-shouldered 250-pounder has emerged as a strong candidate for the Knicks at No. 27 in the Nov. 18 draft, partly because the 19-year-old is likely to be there.
Stewart, who transferred from Rochester as a high school junior to La Lumiere prep school in La Porte, Ind., is currently in Manhattan conducting workouts for various teams. He will stay here until draft day. That’s partly to be close to his agency, Roc Nation.
No, Stewart is not a new-wave big man launching 3s and spreading the floor. In fact, just the opposite. Stewart grinded his way to a 17-point scoring average, leading the nation in post touches while shooting 57 percent.
Stewart also averaged 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 32 games. In a parity-ridden draft, some scouts haven’t ruled out Stewart going in the middle of the first round. The Celtics (14th) have shown some interest, according to an NBA source.
“If the Knicks are lucky enough to get him that late, they’re getting a guy that they’re stealing,’’ Hopkins said. “Thievery 101. He’s got an ability to impact the game and impact winning right away.’’
Hopkins played at Syracuse, then emerged as Jim Boeheim’s right-hand man during 22 years as an assistant and interim head coach, before leaving for Washington in 2017.
While recruiting for the Orange, Hopkins first laid eyes on Stewart as an eighth grader and saw the grit back then. Stewart admitted he chose Washington because of his close relationship with Hopkins.
“The big thing about Isaiah is he’s a culture changer — he’s all about the right stuff,’’ Hopkins said. “New York is a tough place. Fans are tough, but they will fall in love with him because of how hard he plays. It’s that old school, Willis Reed toughness. He’s an old Bad Boy. That’s how he plays.’’
The Knicks also have the eighth pick and probably will take a wing or point guard with that lottery selection. If the Knicks take a wing, GM Scott Perry may feel compelled to snare a point guard at 27 — with Frenchman Theo Maledon high on their list.
Or, the Knicks can add a player who can be an immediate rotational guy in Stewart, who loves the paint and can help usher in a new hard-nosed culture set by coach Tom Thibodeau.
“One of the things I just love about him: I would have to tell him no more practice, get out [of the gym],’’ Hopkins said. “He’s a coach’s dream. A coach can tell them what they want, what they expect. He’s going to execute it and take pride in it.’’
Syracuse, Michigan State and Kentucky recruited Stewart. Yes, former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne, now a Knicks assistant, recruited Stewart hard.
As it happened, Hopkins beat out Kentucky and pulled him out of Boeheim’s backyard.
“We built a relationship over time, but he also wanted to get away from home,’’ Hopkins said.
So, Stewart opted to get away from Rochester by 2,600 miles and cement himself as a probable first-round pick.
Hopkins admits Stewart doesn’t have one of those “incredible ceilings’’ like some others. And he’s not going to beat you with his jump shot. But Stewart won’t be, as Hopkins says, “a gamble.”
“Isaiah is a guy who you say, ‘I know he’s going to be good,’ ” Hopkins said.
Because of a smooth free-throw delivery (77.4 percent), scouts see potential for Stewart to emerge as a decent mid-range shooter.
But that’s not why the Knicks are intrigued.
“He’s got that New York toughness. He’s about rebounding and winning,’’ Hopkins said.
“Another thing I love: He’s not one of these Twitter guys. He’s not into that. He’s not sitting there seeing how many followers he has. He’s thinking, ‘How many jumpers am I shooting today?’ ’’