WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sitting on one offer and knowing he had some tough work ahead of him, Rich Washington transferred to Walsingham Academy (VA) and reclassified to the 2016 class to “get my grades up, develop my body and get stronger."
His work at Walsingham, coupled with a breakout summer of AAU ball propelled Washington to grabbing a total of 17 offers.
“It worked out well. It definitely did me some justice,” Washington said. “That extra year gave me more confidence. I became a better ball handler and added strength.”
Before deciding on the Deacs, Washington had offers from Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and others. He was also getting looks for other ACC schools like Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Pittsburgh.
“Coach (Steve) Woodberry was my recruiter. He called me as family. He checked in on me,” Washington said. “Other recruiters treated me like they were just recruited me. When I saw the family environment, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”
Washington’s family liked the Wake visit and was sold on the academics.
“They were sold from the beginning. Coach Manning was always nice to my family, Washington said. They were excited about the academics, and the chances I would get out of it — not just basketball.”
Getting a trip to the Bahamas to begin his first season with the Deacs was just a bonus, Washington said.
“Getting to go to the Bahamas was awesome,” he said about getting to enjoy the experience along with his stepdad, mother and grandmother. “Coach Manning didn’t give us curfew, and that was a highlight.”
Washington has enjoyed his time in Winston-Salem so far with the Deacs.
“Things have been going great. Everybody is competing and challenging each other,” he said. “I’m long and can shoot the ball really well. I can guard multiple positions. I’m a little smaller, size-wise, but my length and height will give me an advantage.”
He said he will contribute at both the 2 and 3 spots on the floor.
I don’t do a whole lot of ball handling, but I can create and make plays when given the lane. I can pass, dish or score,” Washington said. “They like my ability to create plays, put the ball on the floor and shoot.”
Washington is one of six new players on the Wake roster that will be searching for their spot in the rotation as the season starts.
“He’s in a group of guys fighting for playing time. A lot of it is going to be determined by performance in practice, performance in games,” Wake coach Danny Manning said. “Like most freshmen, he’s still learning the terminology and picking up the different nuances of the offense and defense. He’ll have opportunities this year. We don’t know exactly when, but he’s going to have to be ready for them.”
There’s a lot to like about Washington’s game so far, according to Manning.
“Richard shoots the ball very well. Like most freshmen, he still needs to work at the physicality at this level and get stronger,” Manning said. “That will happen naturally as he gets older and more mature. He’s come out and competed, and shown a lot of improvement.”