TyTy Washington is one of the premier perimeter prospects in the high school class of 2021. Hailing from Laveen, Arizona, he started his prep career at Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix, before making his way to AZ Compass Prep in Chandler. In his senior season, Washington helped lead Compass to its most prolific season yet, reaching the second round of Geico National’s and finishing the season 28-2.
Measurables: Guard- 6’3″, 185 lbs., 6’9″ wingspan.
Washington was a late bloomer by recruiting service standards. According to 247, he was barely a top 100 player in his class during his junior year before moving up to the top 75 by the start of his senior season. By the time each outlet released their final class rankings, he was 16th in his class on 247 and 12th on ESPN.
Washington committed to play for Coach Greg McDermott at Creighton on November 15, 2020 but rescinded his choice on March 11 following McDermott’s “plantation” remarks.
After schools rushed to make their pitches, Washington released his final 6 schools on April 17: Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, and Oregon. He’ll bring a mature and well-developed game, having shown elite skill as a lead guard capable of scoring from anywhere, playmaking for his teammates, and defensive brilliance.
Washington is very far along and very polished for his age when it comes to scoring. He’s very demonstrative and deliberate with his choice of movement, and that shows up on this play here during Geico Nationals against Wasatch Academy (UT). He starts his drive by using his athleticism and ball control to get around his defender before using a hesi-power dribble to get into the paint, giving him room for a tough, reverse finish.
In addition to polish, Washington consistently flashes three-level scoring potential. Here, he shows mostly solid form on a catch-and-shoot, deep three despite a hard close-out from the defense. As for the shooting form, Washington keeps his upper body pretty clean, but he could stand to get his hips more squared and quiet down his footwork, especially when landing. But all in all, he’s well ahead of the usual pace for prospects at this stage.
The third and final level that Washington scores from makes itself known here, down the stretch against Wasatch. He’s the inbounder, so he’s able to sneak into the catch before a two-dribble pull-up jumper from the mid-range. The threat he poses as a driver forces the defender to play a little bit off of him, and Washington takes advantage.
During Washington’s final game in Geico National’s against eventual champions Montverde Academy, he brought out all his tricks. In one particular instance, he’s able to fend off multiple defenders on his way to a late-clock bucket in isolation.
Oftentimes at this stage in their career, young initiators can have a tendency to lose sight of teammates in transition, especially on the secondary break, when obvious options disappear. Washington does not suffer from this issue, and instead is a brilliant manipulator of the defense. Just like when he’s defending, so much comes down to the use of eyes, and Washington’s ability to not look at his receivers until the last moment pays off by way of buckets.
One of the most important skills for perimeter defenders to develop is spatial awareness and being able to answer the questions: Where is the ball as it relates to me and my man? Where is the ball headed? How is the play developing? Am I in any space to make a play to hold up the offense in any way? Washington is very adept at this spatial awareness and is able to take advantage often.
One example of that came in the third quarter against Wasatch. Washington’s assignment on this play is Nolan Hickman, who at one time was committed to Kentucky as ESPN’s 22nd overall prospect in the class of 2021. After Hickman gives up the ball, Washington is shadowing Hickman and just so happens to find himself right next to the ball. He uses that spatial awareness to recognize that and poke the ball free, leading to a fast-break bucket for AZ Compass.
Here’s another example of Washington utilizing his spatial awareness, this time leaving Hickman to cover Wasatch’s big man on a lob. It’s so important to recognize the difference between ball watching and ball awareness when a guy is defending.
During the entire lead-up to the lob pass, Washington has his head on a swivel going back and forth between the ball, Hickman, and eventually the big man. Then, possibly most important of all, he doesn’t hesitate to cover the play when he recognizes what’s happening. His athleticism and strength are what allows him to punctuate the play with a two-handed volleyball block.
Looking ahead to the 2022 draft, there aren’t many backcourt initiators to choose from. That can be one of many contributing factors towards a predictable rise-up boards as we move closer to that draft.
Depending on his choice for his (presumably one-year) college career, Washington could end up as high as the top half of the lottery to the back end of the first round. As he plays his college ball, the aspect of his game I’ll have my eye most on is what kind of load he can carry leading his team in the half-court.
On May 12, 2021, Washington committed to Big Blue Nation to become a Kentucky Wildcat. Aside from fellow Iverson Classic participants Daimion Collins and Bryce Hopkins, Kentucky will be much more veteran-laden than they normally are. They’ve already picked up transfer commits from guards Kellan Grady (Davidson) and C.J. Fredrick (Iowa), who should bolster the Wildcats’ shooting after struggling in a down year in that aspect during 2020-21. Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) also joins the roster and will help to fill the void left by Olivier Sarr. Kentucky also returns role players like Jacob Toppin, Lance Ware, and potentially dynamic guard Davion Mintz, who’s testing the NBA Draft waters.
Washington would bring a demeanor that Kentucky currently lacks in the ball handler department and would give Coach Calipari a true engine of the offense. Kentucky would be poised to return to the NCAA tournament.
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