Quaker Valley basketball player Washington commits to Drexel
Monday, October 30, 2017 | 5:15 PM
Washington, a 6-foot-4 guard, announced Saturday that he has committed to play in college next season at Drexel, putting a plan for his future in place before the Quakers tip off their season next month.
Drexel was the first Division I school to offer Washington a scholarship — he already had multiple Division II offers and other D-I interest, including Robert Morris and Lafayette. But Drexel's strong reputation and location were the ideal mix for Washington, who grew up in Philadelphia before moving with his family to the Sewickley area in seventh grade.
“It was mostly the mix of athletics and academics. Obviously, the ball is going to stop rolling for you someday, so you have to have a degree to fall back on and get a job. A Drexel degree is a good degree, and we did a lot of research on the education side of it,” Washington said.
“I grew up and spent most of my time in Philly until I was about 10 or 11. It's not like it's a brand new city to me, and I still have some friends and family who are going to be around.”
Washington knows the tradition of basketball in Philadelphia and said growing up he was partial to St. Joseph's and Penn, attending games at the latter while his mother was in graduate school at Penn.
The biggest thing for Washington on the court, however, was the chance to play at the highest level. Playing for the Dragons in the Colonial Athletic Association, perennially one of the strongest mid-major Division I leagues, fits that bill.
“I believe that I can play at that level, and I was waiting for a coach to pick up on it,” Washington said. “I do need to gain weight and put on some more muscle, and that's the one thing the (Drexel) coaches have told me. In high school, you can get by not being that big, but in Division I, you'll start getting tossed around if you aren't strong enough.”
His future coach, Zach Spiker, is a Morgantown, W.Va., native and former West Virginia assistant who was the coach at Army for seven years before getting hired at Drexel in 2016, which makes Washington part of his third incoming class. Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said in addition to a talented player, Drexel will be happiest about the work ethic Washington brings to the gym.
“His commitment and the way he works are really a perfect match for him being getting to a Division I school,” Mastroianni said. “He's really put in the time, and he's committed to being the best player he can. He doesn't take too many days off, and him earning a scholarship, I couldn't be happier or prouder for him.”
Washington's game has grown during the offseason, and unlike years past when he has played on the wing for the Quakers, Mastroianni said he will be one of the team's primary ball-handlers.
Knowing that being a Division I recruit will draw plenty of attention from other teams, Washington is ready for the challenge.
“I know there's going to be a lot of pressure put on me, a lot of double teams, much more than last year,” Washington said. “With Amos (Luptak) graduated, I'm going to be running more point guard, so it will be harder to keep the ball out of my hands. Because I'm not coming off the wing, it's going to be harder for teams to just stick a guy on me and faceguard me.”
For all of Quaker Valley's basketball success over the past two decades, Washington with Drexel would become the program's first Division I player since 2006 graduate Amir Johnson, who led Radford to the 2009 Big South title and the NCAA Tournament. Mastroianni believes a similar level of success could be in Washington's future.
“He's turned himself into that type of player by setting a very high bar,” Mastroianni said. “He's worked hard at rounding out his game and being a multi-threat type of player. I know Drexel was his first D-I offer, but I think as coaches started to see the way he's gotten better just this offseason, he would have had a lot more offers as coaches started to take notice.”
Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Quaker Valley
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