Washington asserts himself as TCC’s top scorer
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
What TCC fans saw from Richard Washington against Pasco-Hernando in a recent home game wasn’t typical of the Eagles’ sophomore guard.
Washington, the team’s leading scorer, didn’t hit a field goal until midway through the first half. The two free-throws he had up to that point gave him four points.
Washington would score just two more points the rest of the night in 18 minutes on the floor.
Six points in 18 minutes belies what he’s capable of. Washington has established himself as the Eagles’ leading scorer by delivering big. He is averaging 19 points per game and is ranked No. 4 among the top five junior college scorers in the state.
He attained such heights, in part, when he scored a school-record 45 point, 30 of them coming on his 10 connections from behind the arc on Nov. 28 against Andrew College. His three-point total also set another TCC single-game record against Andrew.
“That wasn’t the best team,” said Washington, who at 6-foot-6 is taller than the average guard in the Panhandle Conference. “They had some pretty good talent and they challenged us and I wanted to come out and assert myself.”
Washington will be counted on again for the Eagles as they try to extend their unbeaten streak after going 15-0 before the Christmas break. They return to action on Thursday and Friday when they hosts the Tallahassee Democrat Holiday Classic.
Up until they defeated Red Devils Basketball Academy 114-56 two weeks ago for their 15th straight win, the Eagles haven’t had a start better than 14-0. They attained that mark to start a season for the first time since 2000-01.
Even before Washington’s career-night performance against Andrew College, he made an impression on coach Mark White, though.
He came to TCC after a season at Wake Forest, where he didn’t play. His freshman season was followed by a year that he sat out with an injury before coming to TCC.
“Rich is one of the best players in the country, one of the best in the state, one of the best in Panhandle,” White said.
The average spectator might not share White’s perception just watching Washington on the floor for the first time. He tends to prowl around, quietly and appearing aloft at times.
“I’ve always been a player that can turn it off and turn it on,” Washington said. “You might see me look like I don’t want to be here but I want to be here and I know when it’s go time.”
That’s what makes Washington the player that he has become, White said.
“He just has more of a professional attitude about him; more mature,” White said. “He is the kind that doesn’t talk like a lot of kids that like to talk nonsense.
“It’s not like he a big, physical kid so people will look at that, but the thing about it is he plays hard.”
It’s seldom that he has the kind of night like he had against Pasco-Hernando, when the Eagles ran away with the game for a 110-70 victory. In cases where Washington wasn’t his best, teammates like Eric Boone and Mustafa Lawrence often step up.
Boone and Mustafa scored 22 and 21 points, respectively while Washington was having what amounts to an off night.
“Nights like tonight,” Washington said, “I enjoy seeing my teammates get theirs.”
That unselfishness, Boone said, is the reason they look to Washington for leadership. He added that they also understand that Washington isn’t going to be the go-to guy every night, although there is no question about his value to the team.
“We look up to him because we need him,” Boone said. “He is not as goofy as the rest of us. He is very smooth.”