It has been a while since anyone has seen Gary, Ind. junior Jalen Washington play basketball publicly, but the talented forward is still firmly on the radar of Indiana and many other high major programs around the country.
The 6-foot-9 power forward is currently ranked No. 16 nationally in the class of 2022 according to the 247Sports Composite. Washington is a highly skilled four with great length and the ability to score inside and out. He is the highest rated in-state player in the junior class.
Washington suffered a season ending knee injury before his sophomore campaign began at West Side High School. He also missed most of his freshman season with a shoulder injury but returned in February of that year and averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds. Washington plays for the Meanstreets AAU program on the Nike EYBL.
The Daily Hoosier caught up with Washington on his rehab, game, recruitment and much more.
TDH: Are you back playing five-on-five basketball yet?
Washington: Not as of right now. Not yet. I’m still just working on my body and getting back into playing shape.
(Note: Washington said that he expects to be ready to play by the time the high school season starts in November.)
TDH: What have you learned about yourself going through rehab, and who has been helpful to you in the process?
Washington: One thing I’ve learned about myself is once you are locked in on a goal, there’s really nothing that can take you off your path for reaching that goal. As far as help, prayer, obviously parents and siblings, my coaches and my friends have all been giving me a lot of support. They’ve kind of helped me take my mind of the negative and instead looking at the positive and working on my rehab and what I have to look forward to.
TDH: Are there any parts of your game that you feel like have gotten better over the last year as you focused on the things you were physically able to develop?
Washington: Definitely. I feel like I’ve improved my touch around the rim with my floaters and hooks, and finishing and dribbling with my left hand. I’ve improved my shooting and ball handling definitely. I feel like I have a lot more work to do, but I feel like I’ve made improvements with not being able to play for a while.
TDH: What does it mean to you that some colleges stayed close to you during your rehab, and do you think that will have any impact on your recruitment?
Washington: I do really appreciate the schools that have offered earlier and have been in contact with as I’ve been injured. Since I haven’t played recently, other schools haven’t reached out as much just because they haven’t had the opportunity to see me play. But it does mean a lot that the schools and the coaches reached out when I was injured. It definitely means a lot.
TDH: What factors are important to you as you start to think more about choosing a college and playing at the next level?
Washington: How I as a player fit into their system, what type of playing style that team has, how they will help me with my skill development, getting stronger, the environment and social life, academics is definitely huge in terms of how they support my major and help me prepare for the future.
(Note: Washington indicated that he plans to major in business and administration.)
TDH: What did it mean to you to get an offer from a prestigious academic school like Stanford?
Washington: That was an incredible blessing. I feel like that was my hard work in the classroom being manifested. Academics are definitely going to play a huge role in me making my decision.
TDH: How often have you been talking to the Indiana coaching staff over the last few months?
Washington: Pretty frequently. I actually spoke to Coach (Tom) Ostrom just before I spoke with you. They reach out frequently, and they are really genuine people. We’re still building up the relationship and so far it is good. On the Zoom call they showed me their campus and the school. It has such a rich history. On the next Zoom call, hopefully we will get into more basketball. Everything is going great with IU right now.
(Note: Washington indicated that he speaks to both Ostrom and head coach Archie Miller on a regular basis. He visited Bloomington last summer in connection with IU’s team camp.)
TDH: How do you see yourself positionally, and where do you hope to be by the time you get to college?
Washington: I see myself as a modern-day four. Whatever name people want to give it, I feel like basketball is evolving to be more positionless so that players aren’t just in a box but they are more playing by reads and playing mismatches. I feel like with my skills and my size combined that I have a chance to be an incredibly versatile player and just exploit whatever mismatch is given to me.
TDH: What other schools besides Indiana do you feel like are prioritizing you right now?
Washington: I don’t want to make it seem like I am cutting the list or leaving out any schools. Really just all the schools that have been recruiting me these past months and years, they’ve all been doing a great job. They’re reaching out and prioritizing me.
(Note: Washington has offers from IU, Purdue, Michigan State, Stanford, Louisville, Alabama, Maryland, Nebraska, DePaul, Iowa and perhaps others.)
TDH: What are your goals both personally and with your team for your junior season?
Washington: Just really max out in every single category. Just give 100 percent for my seniors. I know this is a really huge season for them, so really just going hard for them and for myself, and just seeing how far we can go. I want to be a good leader, a good teammate, and see where that takes us.
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