Williamsport’s Washington signs with Penn State

Almost two years ago, then sophomore Isaiah Washington verbally commited to play basketball at Penn State. Wednesday night,Washington has signed his letter of intent to play basketball in 2014 for the Nittany Lions.

“It takes a lot of pressure off,” said Washington. “It’s relieving, now I can literally focus on just taking care of what I need to take care of here at Williamsport and three-peating and winning the district title and developing myself even more for the collegiate level.”

This isn’t just a big accomplishment for Washington, it’s also an accomplishment for Williamsport coach Allen Taylor, who has coached Washington for the last four years.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Taylor said. “I’ve played with a number of talented athletes and I’ve coached a number of great athletes and he’s going to represent the Williamsport community and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Washington was a second team all-state selection his junior year. He won multiple MVP awards at basketball camps, he has been named to district all-star teams and he is even rated as a three-star recruit by Rival Sports. But Washington just doesn’t excel on the basketball court, he excels in the classroom where he’s been a straight-A student in his three years at Williamsport. Darrick Rizzo described Washington as “a total package athlete.”

“I’m extremely proud of him,” said Pastor Sam Washington, Isaiah’s father. “I couldn’t ask for more, he excels in the classroom, he has great behavior and obviously on the court, you know they feel like he’s somebody special. So I’m very happy about that.”

Washington had other offers from George Mason, James Madison and St. Joe’s. He also received interest from Villanova, Syracuse and Baylor, but Washington knew Penn State was the place for him.

“I would say all of those in entirely,” said Washington when asked if he chose Penn State for the academics, athletics or campus. “I mean Coach (Pat) Chambers was luring me the entire time, I just felt that he was sincere in all that he said. What they’re building up there is great and I wanna be a part of that. Another thing that was most important was the academics. I mean I’m a 4.0 student and I was very conscious of the graduation rate of where I was gonna go and that was very important as well was it being close to home.”

It was very evident Wednesday night that family and friends are very important to Washington as over 100 family members and friends packed the Park Place Home in Williamsport to watch him sign his letter of intent.

Penn Stace coach Pat Chambers was not able to attend as he was coaching a game against Bucknell at the Bryce Jordan Center, but he recorded a video earlier in the day to congratulate Washington and his family.

“Isaiah is an elite-level athlete who can do it all,” Chambers said. “He can really shoot the ball, as well as fill the lanes for some big-time finishes. He plays with high energy and we are looking forward to his athleticism and toughness on the defensive end.”

Washington is an all-around player, but he knows he is going to have to improve his game if he wants to be a successful Division I athlete.

“Just, I would say everything as a whole,” Washington said of what he needs to improve on. “Just working on the little things that I need to do to get myself faster for that level of play or stronger and everything like that.”

Even though Washington signed to Penn State, he knows that he still has some work to do with Williamsport as it tries to win three straight District 2-4 AAAA titles. Last year Washington averaged over 16 points per game, but with the loss of seven seniors, including Chris Kinley and first-team all-state selection Jahad Thomas, Washington is going to have to step up.

“My role has definitely changed since last year,” said Washington. “Last year I was one of the main scorers, but this year I am the go-to guy. I think that we can be pretty good this year, our goal is too defend our three-peat. I think with some of the younger pieces, my role is just to be a leader, my job is going to be to lead that young team to the heights we’ll go to.”