In the myriad of tweets that inundate the world of social media, every once and so often you come across one that, either directly or indirectly, communicates a profound message in 140 characters or less. As most reading this post are well aware, Isaiah Washington, senior point guard for St. Raymond High School in the Bronx, is one of the best high school basketball players in the country. Washington is currently ranked 96 in the ESPN Top 100 for the Class of 2017 and has committed to attend Minnesota and play for Head Coach Richard Pitino next season. As New York Post columnist Zach Braziller pointed out in a feature story in August, Washington took his already stellar game to another level over the summer, culminating in a 36-point performance in the nationally televised Elite 24 showcase game, earning him co-MVP honors.
Everyone wants to score 30 or better this year I'm trying to average 11ast or better so my teammates can say I made the game easier for them— isaiah Washington (@Jellyfam_Dimes) November 21, 2016
Yesterday, Washington sent the above tweet through the twitterverse, announcing an endeavor to average 11 or more assists per contest to make the game easier for his teammates. The tweet also called into question the intuitive urge for players to post huge scoring numbers. This tweet is exceptional on two levels. Directly, the message verifies that Washington strives to be a pass-first point guard who improves the play of his teammates, a characteristic praised by hoops coaches and pundits alike (after all, his nickname is Jellyfam Dimes). Indirectly, the message evinces an understanding by Washington that basketball is a team sport, perhaps more so than any other. It may sound cliche', but the significance of chemistry among the five players on the court sometimes gets lost in the minutiae of the Xs and Os and the media's relentless focus on point scoring (including by yours truly). While there are certainly instances of one standout player carrying their team on their back en route to success, that is the exception rather than the rule. Last season, few would have predicted that Xaverian would win the City title. Why? Because of the overwhelming talent on the other team rosters (St. Raymond included). But when Xaverian jelled (yes, the pun is intended) at the right time, they were able to pull off huge upsets of Archbishop Molloy in the semifinal and Bishop Loughlin in the final (having Coach Jack Alesi didn't hurt either).
Washington has bucked another trend by opting to stay at St. Raymond for his senior year while other CHSAA superstars have moved on to prep schools to hone their skills (another focus of Braziller's piece). For selfish reasons, NYC would certainly like to see more players take Washington's approach. On the other hand, perhaps there is something to be said for the enhancement of team chemistry as an intangible basketball skill. Whether the development of this skill is better served by high school ball in NYC or at an elite hoop prep school is a debate for another day. For now, let us just say that if Washington makes good on the declaration in his exceptional tweet, we wouldn't at all be surprised if St. Raymond is the last AA team standing at Fordham University in March.