March 13, 2007

Video: Spartans looking closely at Washburn

MASON, Mich. - Few players have improved as much as Jason Washburn has during the last year.

As a sophomore, the 6-foot-11 Battle Creek Central standout's play could best be described as enigmatic. Back then, Washburn looked like a legitimate Division 1 center prospect in many of his games, but there were also a number of games where he was relatively invisible.

That is no longer the case.

"There is really no comparison between how I've played this year and how I played last year," said Washburn. "I have worked really hard to improve my game and get where I am right now. I have a lot more work to do. I need to get stronger and keep on working at every part of my game. I work on everything, constantly."

Washburn worked his tail off in the off-season on the court and in the weight room to become a completely different player for Battle Creek Central as junior. The frustration of not being able to take advantage of his height to help his team more on both ends of the floor as a sophomore, has been replaced by the frustration of facing near constant double teams and sometimes even triple teams at the high school level.

And even the proposition of facing a consistent diet of double teams has become less daunting for Washburn, who does a nice job keeping the ball high to avoid strips and is also becoming much better at passing out of double or triple teams and finding open teammates on the perimeter.

Washburn is not yet the dominating post presence that he could potentially become given his athleticism and frame. But there are also an increasing number of occasions where Washburn is able to use his emerging post moves and increased coordination to handle double teams all on his own.

In terms of development, Washburn is far ahead of where many thought he would be as a junior. Now, the 6-foot-11 pivot is getting mail from schools across the country. And while none of the nation's high majors has yet offered the rising junior, Washburn has been gaining a lot of attention from some of the nation's top basketball programs including Michigan State and UConn.

"All of the schools have been saying the same thing," Washburn said. "They like how I've been playing and they like my potential, but they want to take a look at me during the AAU season before offering."

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