April 29, 2010

Washington Ready to Help the Sooners

As expected, head coach Jeff Capel and the Sooner men's basketball team has been hounding down JUCO prospects from all over to immediately fill the many holes left on the roster by the March Meltdown that the program experienced. After the signings of T.J. Taylor[db], [db]Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal, Capel added three more JUCO transfers, bringing the 2010 scholarship class to six.

Perhaps the most highly touted of the three newcomers is Connors State power forward C.J. Washington. Washington just recently signed his letter of intent with the Sooners and provides a big body; something that the former roster lacked tremendously.

After giving Capel his verbal, the Stringville (Oklahoma) native was elated to say the least of his recent decision.

"I'm feeling great right now. I'm feeling real great," Washington admitted. "I'm glad I get to stay in Oklahoma and I get a chance to play at OU. I would have never thought I'd been considered to play here, so that's a pretty good feeling."

The 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward led Connors State to a 30-4 record in his sophomore season while averaging 19.3 points, a school-record 13.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He recorded 25 double-doubles in 32 games and was named a first-team junior college All-American.

Along with his All-American honors, Washington was also named the National Junior College Athletic Association Region II Player of the Year and the Region II Tournament MVP.

Despite all of these accomplishments, the thought of being sought after by Division I programs never crossed the power forward's mind.

"(The thought) didn't really. I mean, I was surprised whenever I made first team and then whenever coach told me OU was looking at me, I was even more surprised," he said.

"I'd been getting recruited by (Oral Roberts University) and some other schools, like I was getting ready to go on my visit to Murray State, and my coach told me 'don't commit or anything, don't sign because OU called about you today' and I was like 'you're kidding me, like you're not serious' and he said that he was."

Washington made his first unofficial visit to Norman during the spring game. The team intended on taking him to the game, but their plans were changed last second due to the inclement weather. Instead, they headed back to the gym to play pickup games and drove around the campus a bit.

"Whenever I was up there on my unofficial visit, (Coach Capel) said he needs somebody to come in and play hard and rebound hard and that's what I can do," said Washington. "I can definitely play hard and rebound hard. That's my calling, I guess, or my forte. That's what I do."

The All-American said he understands that he will need to put on some weight over the summer to help him rebound and attack the basket at a higher level and also plans on working on his shot all summer. His hardest days are in front of him, but Washington believes he is ready to face the challenge.

"I've got to put on some weight definitely. But I'm going to put on some weight and I'm going to give it my all. I'm going to play hard every minutes I'm out there. I'm going to give it my all and if I can't do it, then I can't do it. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to. Nothing's ever stopped me when I try my hardest."

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