The Michael Washington that was a junior this season at Cleveland (Texas) Heritage Christian is much better than the player and student than the Michael Washington who was a junior last season at McGehee.
So says Michael Washington.
"I really feel like coming down here and getting reclassified really helped me in the classroom and on the basketball court," Washington said. "I am a much better student and I am also a much better basketball player."
The new Michael Washington (6-10, 235), who will be on display at this weekend's Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament that begins tonight in Fayetteville, ended the season ranked as the No. 2 junior in Texas by Roundball Report.
Washington, ranked as the 70th best player in the 2006 class by Scout.com, averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocks this past season for a team that went 21-10 as he developed into more of a low post presence.
"I really think playing against better competition and better talent made me work harder and become a much better player than I used to be," Washington said. "I've gotten bigger, but I also run the floor much faster and think all my skills have improved."
Washington will be playing for the Arkansas Wings AAU squad again this summer and they'll get things underway tonight with a matchup against a loaded Memphis Pump-and-Run team at 8 p.m. at Ramay Junior High.
The Memphis team features 6-9, 235-pound power forward Pierre Niles along with 6-8 small forward Thaddeus Young.
"I really look forward to going up against all the guys who are ranked ahead of me and showing that I need to be moved up in the rankings," Washington said. "I take it all as a challenge and want to show those guys that do the rankings just how much I have improved."
Washington was ranked No. 1 in Texas earlier in the season before Durrell Arthur regained that post.
"I'm looking forward to playing him some this summer and taking that back," Washington said.
Heritage head coach Russell Johnson certainly things so as evidence by this earlier comment.
"He's just become a monster on the court who can absolutely dominate a game," Heritage head coach Russell Johnson said. "In fact, I know he is going to play in the NBA. The only question I have is whether he will stay more than one or two years in college. If you have seen him play before, you won't even recognize him. That's high much better he has gotten."
Arkansas remains the solid leader for Washington, who is also being recruited now by Illinois, North Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor to name a few.
"Arkansas is still at the top without a doubt," Washington said. "I'm looking forward to being up there and playing."
Action at the Real Deal on the Hill get underway Friday night at 8 p.m. and will end up around 3 p.m. on Sunday.
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