Washington Returns From Whirlwind Travels To Earn Title
The 19-year-old wasn't enrolled in school and, just as important, he wasn't playing the game of basketball he loved. Last Wednesday night, all the months of hard work to get back to his comfort level on and off the court handsomely paid off.
Washington scored a team high 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help lead the John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy to a 61-59 win in the PSAL Alternative League Class B championship.
"It's just a great feeling right now," Washington said
In May of 2007, Washington, who was then enrolled at Beach Channel High School, found out his eligibility to play high school sports had run out.
He admitted his life began to spiral after contributing on the court in his first season for the Dolphins varsity team during the 2006-2007 PSAL AA season. Beach Channel went 12-6 and qualified for the playoffs.
Before he found out that information, Washington was 'acting up' once the season was over. His behavior, along with his grades, began to plummet. It was the last straw once he heard the news.
"I was being bad in school and that's what the bad part of a student athlete sometimes is. You try to just pass classes to stay eligible to play," Washington said.
"And when I found out I couldn't play the next year, I just lost it."
Once the school year ended, he took off to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he began to work in construction and installing fire sprinklers. Not playing basketball at that time also forced Washington to make a change.
"I didn't play for nine months and I realized that construction ain't where I need to be. I went back to the court and I went to school," Washington said.
The bruising 6-2, 200-pound center enrolled at the small academy located near Wall Street in lower Manhattan to get a chance to earn his high school diploma.
Washington has done well as he commutes from Rockaway to a small school which better suits his needs. In the classroom, his 85 grade point average and a successful internship were key for him to adjust to a new school.
The junior student also did well on the court. Washington averaged 18 points and 16 rebounds for Wildcat Academy, which went undefeated throughout the season.
"That's my workhorse aka Manchild, that's what we call him," said Wildcat Academy coach Andrew Green. "Whatever I ask for him to do on boards, he does it with no problems. Whenever I asked him to step up, he would do it."
Green credits Washington for working well with top scoring seniors Wynn Adams and Marcus Mabry. The Wildcat Academy coach says once they clicked as a unit on the court, the team never looked back.
And Washington, who will turn 20 years old in March, returns next year for a chance to earn another title. He's glad for having a second chance to make it.
"I couldn't see myself here when I was at Beach Channel, but I pulled through," Washington said.