Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Washington KCKCC's First Division II All-American basketball player


Dominique Washington came to Kansas City Kansas Community College just hopeful of playing college basketball. He did that – and a whole lot more, becoming the first Blue Devil to earn a berth on the NJCAA Division II All-American Second Team.

“I was just in disbelief. I was on the Division II website and happened to scroll down and saw my name on the All-American second team,” said Washington. “I wanted to make it but I never expected it to be so fast. I was really happy. The first person I called was my dad. It was about midnight and I said ‘We made it, All-American.’ He said are you kidding me? Man, that’s big time.”

A 6-7 freshman forward from Hogan Preparatory Academy where he averaged 15.3 points and 12 rebounds in leading the school to the Missouri Class 3 state championship, Washington was the picture of consistency in averaging 18.6 points and 9.0 for KCKCC.

He scored in double figures in 29 of 32 games and only once scored less than nine. He also had 11 double digit rebound games and was limited to less than six just once.

Shooting 55.1 percent from the field, Washington led the Blue Devils (16-16) to nine wins in their final 11 games and within one game of qualifying for the Division II national tournament. His performances earned first team All-Jayhawk and All-Region honors.

That Washington should earn All-American recognition can be attributed in no small part to hard work with KCKCC athletic trainer Rodney Christensen.

He had started his collegiate athletic career at Fort Scott Community College but never played because of a severe back injury. Dropping out the second semester, he saw his weight balloon to a whopping 318 pounds.

“When I came in to play with the guys (at KCKCC), I was not physically fit at all. I was not flexible and could not do pull ups,” said Washington, who began daily workouts and rehabilitation under Christensen’s direction. “He helped me rehab my whole body and knocked off 50 pounds and I’ve lost more since then.”

Washington was contacted by KCKCC Coach Jon Oler after playing in Jerry Mullen’s Showcase.

“I’ve known Jerry since I was 15 and he started calling schools and Coach Oler called in less than a week. I told him I would get back in shape if he would let me sign. I just wanted to play. It turned out to be the best situation possible. I was close to home, had a stable place to work out, a great living situation in the apartments and I was playing in the Jayhawk Conference, the best in junior college basketball. Plus, I wanted a chance to face Fort Scott.”

Washington started the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds against Southeast Nebraska, had 34 points against Mid-America Nazarene and 41 at On Point Academy. He also torched Fort Scott for 19 and 23 points in a pair of wins.

“I realized I could do some big things after the first game but it really hit me when I had 34 and 41. I never had that many in high school so the hard work really paid off.”

This summer will be spent taking classes and working out in pursuit of two major goals – making the national tournament and continuing his basketball at a Division I college and eventually into the field of coaching.

“The national tournament is the biggest goal,” he says. “I want to continue to give the college a good name and get more recruits to come here and play. I feel like this is home.”

With the return of assist leaders Antonio Winn and D.J. Booker, the Blue Devils should be definite title contenders in their second year of Division II this fall.

“I love those guys. I’ve known them both since we were kids but never thought I’d be playing with them.”

As a youngster, however, things were never easy for Washington. “I struggled with sports,” he remembers.

“I was short and chunky and all I could do was shoot. There were some hard times but my mom and dad (Geri and Brad Washington) always told me that true character is always revealed through adversity.”

His parents – his dad is a former coach at an alternative school and his mother a substance abuse counselor working on her doctorate – are his biggest fans.

“My dad tells me there are always things to work on, to never just settle on being good but do something better. I was baptized on my 19th birthday and I promised my mom I would do something with myself.”