Those who follow high school basketball in the state of Arkansas are very aware of Michael Washington.
But the play of the 6-9, 218-pound forward for the Arkansas Wings in a pair of AAU events the past couple of weeks has major colleges learning how to spell and say the town of McGehee.
"I think I have really played well these past two weeks, especially on defense and I have also been able to put up some points," Washington said. "I think a lot of teams have begun taking notice of me."
Schools like Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas join Arkansas State - who has already offered a scholarship - as teams now recruiting Washington, who had already earned an invitation to the prestigious Nike All-American Camp July 6-10 in Indianapolis before even getting into the AAU schedule.
"He is a special player in that he is not only strong around the basket, but can also step out and knock it down from the perimeter," McGehee head coach Patrick Dodson said. "He is a natural 3-4 in that he can score inside and out, put the ball on the floor and create his own shot."
Washington, who will be on display the next two Saturdays in the Arkansas AAU State tournament at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, certainly showed that versatility during his high school season.
He averaged 21.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals for a team that finished 15-15 during the regular season.
Washington shot 47 percent from the field overall, a figure that is lifted by the fact that he knocked down 42 percent of his 3-point attempts (43 of 140). He also connected on 76.4 percent of his free throw attempts and threw down 68 dunks during the campaign.
"Obviously he is someone that can really shoot the ball, which is unusual for a guy his size these days," Dodson said. "But he can also power it in low as evidenced by the fact he had those 68 dunks.
"The only thing he needs to really work on is his lateral quickness," Dodson added.
Washington said the one thing he needs to improve on more than anything else is indeed his footwork.
"That's both in the post and on defense," Washington said. "I think that one thing I need to improve the most on."
After playing in the Boo Williams Invitational in Virginia and the Las Vegas Showcase the past two weekends, Washington and his Arkansas Wings Red teammates will now set sights on winning the Arkansas AAU state crown.
"I think we played pretty good two weeks ago in Virginia, but didn't play as well last week in Las Vegas," Washington said. "But I certainly think we have the team to win the state tournament."
Washington joins 6-3 Pulaski Oak Grove guard Robert Johnson and Clarksville point guard York Sims and hopes to have injured 6-11 center John Gourlay of Subiaco Academy in the lineup soon.
"When he is able to play, I will be able to play the four instead of playing the five and I think that will really help us having him in the game," Washington said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Washington and the Arkansas Wings Red will play Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against the Arkansas Legends and then battles the Arkansas Rockets at 8 p.m.
The tournament will continue the following Saturday with a championship game set for 3:30 p.m.
"I feel really good about us winning this and I just want to help out," Washington said. "I just want to get better every day."
Arkansas AAU 17-and-under State Tournament
• 9 a.m. - Arkansas Wings White vs. Arkansas Bulls
• 10:30 a.m. - Arkansas Heat vs. Arkansas Rockets
• Noon - Arkansas Lakers vs. Arkansas Angels
• 1:30 p.m. - Arkansas Wings Red vs. Arkansas Legends
• 3:30 p.m. - Arkansas Angels vs. Arkansas Wings White
• 5 p.m. - Arkansas Legends vs. Arkansas Heat
• 6:30 p.m. - Arkansas Bulls vs. Arkansas Lakers
• 8 p.m. - Arkansas Rockets vs. Arkansas Wings Red
Washington putting McGehee on map
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