Washington was Born in Louisville
Although he grew up in Dallas and currently plays prep ball in Las Vegas, Washington was born in Louisville, Kentucky. P.J.’s parents played college basketball at Middle Tennessee State. After school his father Paul spent two years working and living in Bowling Green and Louisville. When the Washington’s lived in Kentucky, he told Ben Roberts things were a bit different.
“It’s a basketball state, for sure,” Washington said. “You were either red or you were blue. No ifs, ands, buts about it. And back then, Rick Pitino was at Kentucky. So I’m really messed up when I go back there now. It’s all backwards.”
A Skilled Trash-Talker
If he scores on you, he’s going to let you know about it. It’s not just that he’s dunking on guys, then screaming in their face. He does that, but usually it’s much more passive. He’ll crack a wide smile after an opponent commits a turnover or slide in a smart ass remark while lined up for free throws.
At the Peach Jam, Washington told me, “Some people are not mentally strong. I try to get in their head a little bit and it seems to be working.”
One time it worked too well. When he was on the floor in New York, somebody kicked him in the head. It took about zero seconds for that guy to start running for the doors.
Watch Washington’s Powerful Dunks
A Versatile Scorer
He looks like the type of guy that makes his money banging on the block, but he has the ability to stretch out a defense. He played the role of “trailer” on the circuit, often receiving ball reversals behind the three-point line at the top of the key. When he gripped it and ripped it, it was a guaranteed And 1 at the rim. If he can consistently knock down shots from the elbow, it will create space for Kentucky’s talented interior.
An Outstanding Rebounder
If he were on the And 1 Mixtape Tour, they’d call him Windex because nobody is better at cleaning the glass.
Many of Calipari’s best rebounders were great because of their height and length. As you’ll see, he has some of the length, but his fundamental approach sets him apart from others. It’s not because he’s a cliche that “has a nose for the ball.” Washington is always in the right position to grab the rebound and he’s not afraid to be physical.
It’s a shame basketball has gone soft. I’d love to see Washington with the Pistons’ Bad Boys of the 80’s.
He has a 7’2″ Wingspan
Washington consistently rebounds over 7-footers because of all the above, but that 7’2″ wingspan helps just a bit.
Washington Won a Gold Medal for Team USA
At this summer’s FIBA Americas Championship in Chile, Washington was one of only four players for the U18 National team to average double figures in scoring. He put up 10 points and 4 rebounds per game as Team USA triumphed over Canada 99-84 in the finals.
In these highlights from the Team USA Camp in Colorado Springs, he shows off his ability to run the floor and stretch the defense with his jump shot.
He’s AAU Teammates with John Petty
Team Penny made it to the semifinals of the Peach Jam before losing to Quade Green and Mohamed Bamba in heartbreaking fashion. Hopefully it’s not the last time the two play together.
Washington will be your Favorite Player
The previous 500 words of this post can’t capture his charisma. His big smile is charming, but his big mouth is infuriating for opponents. Physical yet versatile, Washington is a perfect fit for Kentucky.