The University of Arkansas' 2006 basketball recruiting class got off to a big start on Wednesday when former McGehee and current Cleveland (Texas) Heritage Christian Academy standout Michael Washington committed to the Razorbacks.
Washington (6-10, 230) is a coveted big man who is able to play both the 4 and 5 spots and is coming off a season where he averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocks per game last season for a 21-10 squad
He did so after a Wednesday visit in which he was once again showed around campus and before he went out and played in the Dunbar League in Little Rock on Wednesday night.
"I pretty much knew that was what I was going to do, but when we were driving up here Oklahoma and Oklahoma State called and I thought I'm just tired of this all and I want to go to Arkansas," Washington said. "So I just went ahead and committed because I want to be a Razorback."
Washinghton was regarded as one of the two best juniors in Texas last season along with Durrell Arthur and is ranked as the nation's 71st-best prospect nationally in the 2006 class by Scout.com.
While Arkansas had long been Washington's favorite, he ended up choosing the Razorbacks despite being courted by teams such as North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Baylor to name a few.
"I just like everything about Arkansas," Washington said. "I like the school, the gym, the new weight room and how serious they are about academics. There was just no reason to wait."
Washington, currrently playing this summer with the Arkansas Wings AAU program and just about to head to the Nike All-America Camp, thinks the move to Heritage helped him a great deal since the competition level was much better.
"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 earlier. "I've gotten bigger, but I also run the floor much faster and think all my skills have improved."
That's something that Arkansas Wings assistant Antonio Moore wholeheartedly agrees with.
"I think when it comes to guards in Arkansas that the level of play is pretty good, but he is so much better off being a big guy and being down there playing prep ball," Moore said. "When you are in a major metropolitan city like Houston you are playing some of the best big men in the country on a regular basis.
"And because he is at a prep school he goes against 6-9 and 6-10 guys in practice that are going on to college to play," Moore said. "It's just great for him."
Moore said he has seen a big difference in Washington from last summer to this one.
"There is worlds of difference in his strength and his overall skill level," Moore said. "He really creates a mismatch for other players. If you put a smaller guy on him he can take him down and score on him and if you put a bigger guy on him he can just take that defender out and shoot over him."
Heritage head coach Russell Johnson certainly has been impressed by Washington as evidenced by this earlier comment.
"He's just become a monster on the court who can absolutely dominate a game," 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 how much better he has gotten."
Washington is coming off a solid performance at the U.S. Olympic Inernational Sports Invitational in San Diego.
He averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds in four games with one 16-point, 8-rebound outing as his USA Blue team finished second in the event.
"I'm looking forward to having another good year down there and then coming back and be a great player for Arkansas," Washington said. "They said they are going to play me at both the forward and the post and I'm looking forward to it."
Mike Washingon commits to Hogs
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