Isaiah Washington was tired of other people making excuses for him.
The St. Raymond point guard and his team struggled midway though his sophomore season last year. During that time all he heard was how he was too young, too inexperienced and not ready in his first varsity season. Washington eventually proved them all wrong late in the year. He matured, adjusted and grew into the player he was billed to be.
“I had to show them I could play,” Washington said.
The 6-foot guard averaged 17 points and seven points over the Raven’s final seven games. He scored a team-high 22 points to lead them to a CHSAA Archdiocesan semifinal victory over rival Cardinal Hayes and a spot in the title game.
“I started taking things serious,” Washington said. “I thought it was going to be easy. I decided to become more of a leader and that’s how was started winning some games.”
His on-court transformation was largely in part to a change in his mindset. Washington’s quickness and explosive first step have given him a natural scorer’s mentality. While there are times he can score at will, he need to learn how to get his teammates better involved and raise their contributions as well. His growing trust in them and his determination to be more of a leader was rewarded.
“I told him learn how to make basketball plays,” Lopez said. “He doesn’t have to force thee pass, he doesn’t always have to score. But it’s all based on reads. I think he learned how to do that exceptionally well. He learned how to do that down the stretch for us.”
Washington has carried his high level of play into this summer and the July live recruiting period with his New Heights travel team. He was an all-tournament selection at the Pangos All-American Camp in late May and continues to pick up steam. He wants to show people he is one of the country’s top guards.
Washington recently added scholarship offers from Rutgers and Iona to ones from St. John’s Indiana, Minnesota and Providence. USF and New Mexico have also shown interest. He understands the extra attention brings some added pressure, but is enjoying the fruits of his labor so far.
“All the hard work is starting to pay off,” Washington said.
Lopez just wants to see Washington’s decision-making get more consistent. Washington is also working on his jumper. His coach is confident his star point guard is going to continue to progress. Lopez continues to ask him how many assists he has whenever he sees them.
“If he can be a more consistent pass first, score later point guard we will have success with him,” Lopez said.
Washington expects the same, eying runs at city and state titles. He won’t make any excuses or expect any made for him.
“No one is young anymore,” Washington said. “I believe without a doubt we are going to win.”