SMU basketball's 2015 recruiting class is off to a strong start, and the coaches are also looking at a lot of the Class of 2016's elite talent. But getting an early start on recruiting is always encouraged, and that's exactly what the coaches are doing with the Class of 2017.
The coaches already offered Andre Rafus, a small forward from Baltimore, and they continued by offering P.J. Washington, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward. He just finished his first year at Dallas' Prime Prep Academy and has built a good relationship with his hometown team's coaching staff.
"I've talked with Coach (Ulric) Maligi and Coach (Larry) Brown," Washington said. "They've been talking to me since eighth grade, but it's official now."
Larry Brown and his staff are familiar with Prime Prep Academy. They spent a lot of time there watching their prized 2014 recruit, Emmanuel Mudiay, but they couldn't help but notice Washington, and according to his father, offered him quickly.
"The coaching staff is great, and I like my relationship with them," the younger Washington said. "It's a great private school and a great education."
Washington will be headed to Frisco Lone Star HS (Tex.) next year, but also talked about his plans for visiting SMU.
Washington said he plans to take an unofficial visit to SMU soon. He also said he thinks he would be a great fit in SMU's system, and versatility is a big reason why.
"My strengths right now are my midrange game and my down-low post moves and rebounding. I think I'll play both power forward and small forward, kind of like Jabari Parker. I think (my versatility) separates me from other players."
Washington, a Frisco, Texas native, is a five-star prospect, so his recruiting process should be just as intense as Parker's was. SMU was Washington's first offer, but he has since added offers from UConn, Baylor and Kansas State, according to his father. Kansas, Clemson, Texas and Oklahoma State are among the many other schools to show interest, and his list is sure to grow as he continues his high school career. He already has an idea for what he is looking for in a college.
"I'd like to go to a good basketball school that fits my style of play."
Mudiay was Washington's teammate for a year, and he enjoyed getting to play with him.
"He's a nice guy and he's very unselfish. He can find the open man and leads his team to victory."
Despite the connection with Mudiay, Washington said that it was too early to tell if Mudiay's future success at SMU or playing close to home would be a factor in his decision.
Washington is in the middle of his AAU season with Memphis-based Team Penny, which is coached by former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway. He was regarded as one of the best players at May's Super Soph Camp in Atlanta and has started to gain national attention during the current AAU season on the Nike EYBL circuit. The circuit has taken him to Dallas, Minnesota, Sacramento and Virginia.
"So far I think my (AAU) season has gone really well," Washington said. "I've been playing against older guys and I think I've been doing pretty well."
Washington said he averaged "about nine points and five or six rebounds per game" during his freshman season at Prime Prep.