Senior center Warren Washington has come from the University of Nevada to give the ASU men's basketball something they haven't had in four seasons: A 7-foot-tall basketball player.
Washington arrives as only the second 7-footer since head coach Bobby Hurley took over the ranks in the 2016-2017 season. With his added size and skill, Washington looks to help ASU improve on the defensive end and expand his own skillset.
While at Nevada, he averaged double-digit scoring for his last two seasons. In the 2021-22 season, he led Nevada in shooting percentage (60.8%) and averaged 6.6 rebounds per game. Washington isn't the only Sun Devil from Nevada this year, as fifth-year guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. came with him to ASU.
It's always a bonus to have a 7-footer underneath protecting the paint, but Washington is also capable of putting the ball on the floor and making a play if you need him. Last season he averaged 10.5 points per game.
"We're fortunate with Warren, we can throw it into him, and he can create for himself," junior forward Marcus Bagley said. "So it just opens a lot of stuff offensively and defensively."
With the added scoring depth, coach Hurley has communicated with Washington ways he can be effective outside of running the floor, blocking shots and dunking the ball.
"Coach wants me actually to be more of a playmaker, so I'm working on that," Washington said. "Working on getting actions out of the midrange and the post."
Washington, along with transfers sophomore guard Frankie Collins from Michigan and Desmond's younger brother Devan Cambridge from Auburn, already have the defensive identity and complexion of this Sun Devils team. Washington's size and gravity play a considerable role, but he says it is a team commitment.
"I feel like everybody on the floor wants to play defense and get a stop," Washington said. "I like our attention to detail on the defensive end."
Washington has spoken merrily about the team's defensive potential saying he "feels bad" for the teams they will go up against in competition.
"It's one thing to have length and be slow and stiff, but I feel like we have a really good balance of mobility and length, so I feel like we are going to be really, really good on the defensive end," Washington said.
Washinton's impact extends off the court as a senior with much college basketball experience. He's been a mentor and implemented tough love to sophomore center Enoch Boakye, who is next in line in ASU's frontcourt.
"Coming at him in practice is fun. I act like he's not my friend on the court, and sometimes I'm a little too hard on him, but I'm just trying to get him better, and he understands that," Washington said. "I love Enoch, and he's a great player."
On opening night against Tarleton State, Washington could not show Sun Devils fans what he would bring to the table this year as he got into early foul trouble. He played only 13 minutes in the game, scoring one point, and didn't take a single shot from the field.
The second game of the season against NAU was a different outing for Washington. He played 25 minutes, shot 5-of-6 from the field for a total of 12 points and grabbed four rebounds. After the game, Hurley praised the team's offense and said he was "happy" to see Washington get involved; his game plan was to attack the paint relentlessly.
Through three games at ASU, Washington's best performance thus far came in a 67-66 overtime loss to Texas Southern University, where he posted his first double-double as a Sun Devil scoring 10 points, snatching 14 boards, and blocking four shots.
So far this season, Washington is averaging 7.7 points and seven rebounds per game.
Washington looks forward to the opportunities this season will bring him as a Sun Devil. And he's fully aware of the team's struggles in the past and is ready to embrace his role to push the program forward.
"I wanted to give myself a good chance of playing in March, and I feel like, with the group, coach Hurley, and the rest of the staff, I feel like they have the right kind of goal and the right type of mindset this year," Washington said. "Coming off a couple of years where they struggled, I feel like this will be the year for them, and I want to be a part of that."
Edited by Walker Smith, Wyatt Myskow and Grace Copperthite.