Junior Spotlight: Wesley Washington

The Arizona connection to Santa Ana's Mater Dei High School is strong. The Southern California (and national) powerhouse has sent numerous players to Division I schools, three to Arizona. The current Mater Dei squad is loaded with young talent, including guard Wesley Washington, whom Cat Tracks recently spoke with about his future plans. And you won't believe who he's related to...

First of all, when trying to get an image of what some of these recruits look and play like, it is easiest to compare how they play to those currently in the college ranks.

Someone compared incoming Arizona wing Hassan Adams to a bigger, more intense Khalid Reeves, and that seems appropriate. For the sake of this particular story on Wesley Washington, think only of one person: Maryland's Juan Dixon.

Washington is a 6-3, 165-pound shooting guard with outstanding penetrating ability, quickness and overall athleticism. Qualities that are all possessed by the Maryland All-American guard as well.

"People compare my game to Juan Dixon and Keyon Dooling," said Washington, who is averaging 15 points, six rebounds and five assists per game for the Monarchs. "I can play the passing lanes like that. Plus I'm quick enough to get around anyone. It's my outside shot that I've been working on.

Funny story. While working on his outside shot this summer, Washington would shoot sometimes for three or four hours a day with a couple of his travelling team coaches. His shooting partner, however, was none other than current UCLA point guard (and Mater Dei alum) Cedric Bozeman.

No big deal, right? A lot of the SoCal kids know each other and play together in the summers. What makes this story so intriguing was learning that Bozeman is Washington's step-brother. Talk about an instant recruiting advantage to the Bruins.

Or maybe not.

"Oh, I'm not interested in UCLA," Washington said, with a bit of a laugh. When asked why not, he simply said, "I can't really say why."

What Washington did say about possible choices of where to play college ball was that he has already narrowed his list down to two schools: Arizona and Cal.

The future physical therapy major said that while he hasn't taken any unofficial visits, he does plan to take officials to Berkeley and Tucson this spring but won't rush into making a commitment.

"I'm going to weigh my options," he said. "Watching (Cedric) go through (the recruiting process) helped. I think he made the right decision."

Wesley said that Cal, "has some good guards and most of them will be gone by the time I would get there so there would be an open spot. Plus Jamal (Sampson, another Mater Dei alum) is there and he's doing well this year."

As for Arizona, Washington had only good things to say about coach Olson and his program.

"Arizona has GREAT guards," he said. "I've heard a lot about (Miles Simon and Reggie Geary, both of whom are-shock!-Mater Dei alums) from coach (Gary) McKnight but he doesn't push them on me.

"I'm always looking to make that extra step and for now that's college and then maybe the NBA. Arizona sends guards to the NBA consistently and Lute Olson is a great coach. You can see that in his record."

Washington is one of America's hottest players and maybe the West Coast's preeminent rising star thanks in large part to his coming out party against No. 1-ranked Oak Hill Academy a few weeks ago.

Washington led the Monarchs to a huge victory over Oak Hill with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. After that performance, Washington's stock has been soaring.

"Penetrating and jumping over people have always been my strengths," he said. "But after working on my outside shot really hard this summer, that's what's really helping me now (in becoming a complete player)."

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