Aaron Washington’s basketball road to McDaniel College has been eye-opening.
That’s how the 6-foot-4 junior guard looks at the journey, anyway. From high school to Division I to junior college, and now Division III, Washington said he has gained a lot of basketball experience. The Green Terror are benefiting from that experience so far.
Washington leads the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game, and he’s coming off Centennial Conference Player of the Week recognition. The Washington, DC native is thriving behind the 3-point line, too, making 42.2 percent of his treys.
Washington has seen action in eight games and made six starts.
The success is a welcome sight for Washington, who starred at Montrose Christian School before joining The Citadel’s recruiting class of 2016. Washington got into four games for the Bulldogs and didn’t find his rhythm, so he left for Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas.
The junior college is part of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. Washington played in 30 games and made six starts, and he averaged 5.4 points. But something was missing from his hoops life, he said.
“I kind of just wanted to get back closer to home,” said Washington, who decided McDaniel might be a good fit after talking to men’s basketball coach Kevin Curley.
“I try to being a competitive edge to the Hill, try to bring a sense of leadership,” Washington said. “Less by talking, more by example. I’m more of a guy who just kind of does it.”
The Terror seem to embrace Washington’s mindset, it seems.
The guard’s Centennial player of the week honor came after he averaged 16 points and 3.5 3-pointers per game in a 1-1 week for the Green Terror, Dec. 3-9. He shot 42.9 percent, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range, and made 7 of 9 free-throw attempts.
After an 11-point outing at Dickinson on Dec. 5 that included the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime (McDaniel fell 91-86), Washington netted 21 points Dec. 8 against Franklin & Marshall in the Green Terror’s 62-59 victory — their first win over the Diplomats since 2014.
“He brings some offense to us,” Curley said of his sharpshooter. “He has the ability to create his own shot. I think he has a lot of confidence in his ability to score, which has been good.”
“I’ve been focusing on playing hard, trying to follow through with everything that the coaching staff has put in place for us,” Washington said. “Trying to follow my teammates and the leadership that some of the seniors have put in front of me as a person who’s just getting here. Following their leadership and their work ethic, and trying to keep everything going in the same way.”
Washington said he learned a lot about basketball and college after leaving Montrose Christian — he played one season at a prep school in Daytona Beach, Florida, before attending The Citadel — and left him with some questions about life after both facets.
“It put me in a position to thinking whether I really wanted to either continue playing basketball in college, or even to a certain degree, if you want to continue going to school,” Washington said. “You see a lot of kids part ways, especially at the junior college level.”
The pull to return home is part of what kept Washington going, he said. And McDaniel has needed his output so far.
The Terror are 3-6 (1-4 Centennial) and lost five in a row after a 2-0 start. They’ve been without senior guard Austin Cannon, a Manchester Valley graduate, for all but two games this season (Curley said Cannon is lost for the year because of a lingering foot injury he re-aggravated Dec. 1 against Muhlenberg).
But Washington said he’s eager to lead the team into its holiday tournament games Dec. 29-30 in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, before starting the new year with a bulk of the Centennial slate.
And he’s trying his best to enjoy the journey.