What's the Deal, Mike?

In his weekly column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with Genesis One Christian Academy star and UA signee Michael Washington to get to the bottom of some rumors concerning the NBA. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website.

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Smack dab in the middle of football recruiting there was a basketball story that more than likely caused some concern for the University of Arkansas basketball fans that came across it.

Basically it said that UA hoops signee Michael Washington (6-10, 235) was contemplating a leap straight from Genesis One Christian Academy to the NBA draft.

Now I am a big fan of Washington, the former McGehee star who could jump because his high school class will have been out a year by the time the draft rolls around.

But I think it would be a huge mistake - especially considering how many veteran SEC players came out early last season and fell flat on their faces - so I called up Genesis One head coach Victor Evans to see exactly what the scoop was with Washington.

"What happened is we have had several NBA scouts at our game and the NBA league office actually called and asked about him and we made a few comments about that and next thing you know it's like he was definitely thinking about doing it," Evans said. "But that really is not something that either Michael or myself talk about or are even really looking at right now."

Washington, who is averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds on a loaded team that may have as many 14 Division I signees when it is all said and done, is focused on being a Razorback right now.

"Our goal right now is to get him prepared for the next level - college that is - both athletically and with his basketball," Evans said. "He has the scholarship to Arkansas and that is what he is planning to do. All that other stuff, well, that's nice to talk about and dream about, but we talk about how the NBA is always going to be there after Arkansas."

Washington, who played his sophomore and junior seasons at McGehee, spent last season and the start of this school year at Heritage Christian Academy before concerns about Hurricane Rita and some other things prompted him to head back closer to home.

He landed at Genesis One , which is in Mendenhall (Miss.) and just about 90 minutes from his parent's home in McGehee.

"He's gotten really comfortable here and it shows in his play," Evans said. "Especially since we have come back from our two-week break. It takes some getting used to here. Our principal could care less that we have a basketball team. He is all about academics and their lives. We have them in bed at 10 p.m. every night and it is a very focused and regimented atmosphere here."

The NBA talk sparked concerns about Washington's academic situation.

"No I can tell you that is not the case and in fact he is doing a fantastic job in the classroom with a B average in some very tough courses that are getting him prepared," Evans said. "He is going to be just fine in that regard."

The team, which Evans described as being inconsistent, came back from the Christmas Break with a resounding three game sweep in recent tournament play.

"We beat Gulf Shores and Heritage Christian and ended up going 3-0 in that tournament and Michael just really played well," Evans said. "I think he averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds in those three games and just dominated at times."

Genesis One is the host of this weekend's Great Southern Showcase at the Mississippi Basketball and Athletic Center in Jackson, Miss.

It is a loaded field that includes some of the best prep schools in the nation in IMG (Fla.), Redemption Christian (NY), Boys to Men (Ill.), Gulf Shores (Texas), Florida Prep and Laurinberg (N.C.) Prep.

"It's going to be 20 of the best teams you will ever get together in one place," Evans said. "That's why we call it the Great Southern Showcase and that is exactly what it is going to be."

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