2005 Focus: Michael Washington

Not too many people outside of Arkansas know about Michael Washington. Let's clarify that: Not too many fans know about the McGehee High junior. However, plenty of college coaches are well aware of the 6-9 forward and his potential.

Michael Washington played with a small summer-league outfit called the Arkansas Lakers last year, so he didn't get all that much exposure. The 6-9, 215-pound forward may not be a household name among recruiting fans and analysts, but plenty of coaches know all about him.

The McGehee High (Ark.) junior shot 52 percent from the three-point line this past season and is also versatile enough to do some work in the paint. He put up 23 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks per game, but he'll still need to get stronger and work on his ballhandling and footwork. However, he just turned 16 so there's plenty of upside to his development.

Washington is also a dominant football player. Imagine a 6-9 free safety who runs a 4.6 40-yard dash coming across the middle or a wide receiver able to go up and out-jump just about any defensive back. That was Washington this past season as he delivered many a crushing blow and also hauled in 9 touchdowns.

However, his football days are over. Now he'll just concentrate on hoops and trying to make a name for himself on the circuit this summer while suiting up for the Arkansas Wings.

``I just want to win everything and get my footwork right," said the soft-spoken Washington.

So far, the major players in his recruitment are Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. Washington also likes North Carolina and Arizona, both of which have sent letters. McGehee coach Patrick Dodson also said that Purdue, Florida, Southern Illinois, Seton Hall, Memphis and Mississippi State have expressed interest.

One college coach who came in recently compared him to P.J. Brown.

``He's a Joe Johnson type, but more athletic and longer," Dodson said. "I think he's faster than Joe, also. The high side for Michael hasn't even shown up yet. Once he matures, he's going to be a terrific player."

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