Walk on Washington

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By Morgan Davis>Senior>Political Science and Journalism>George Washington University

Basketball is life.  From practice to the locker room to games, Malcolm Washington breathes basketball.  The stellar high school player took an alternative route into college sports, walking on as a freshman guard at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school.  Following his older sister, a student at Yale, to an Ivy education and playing college basketball is what Washington calls his “40 year plan, not just a four year plan.”

“My family is big on education, so [UPenn] was a perfect package with the prestigious basketball history,” he said. 

Fortunately for Washington, son of actor Denzel Washington, athletic ability runs in the family.  “We got started playing sports really young,” he said.  “In spite of what my dad says, [my mom] is the athlete in the family,” he added, laughing.

Picking up basketball around the young age of five came naturally for Washington.    He decided to solely pursue basketball in high school, leaving other sports behind.  “My brother was a stand out football player and I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps,” he said, referring to John David Washington, a Morehouse College football star who spent 2006 on the St. Louis Ram’s practice squad and now plays for the California Redwoods.  “My dad is a basketball fan, so I said basketball it is.”

Walking on at UPenn has opened up opportunities for Washington that he doesn’t think he would have had elsewhere.  “There’s more opportunities here to play,” he said.  Walking on at an Ivy League school technically differs from walking on at other schools since the Ivys do not offer athletic scholarships to even the recruited players, making differences between walkons and recruits less noticeable.  The label “walkon,” Washington added, is noted “in articles, but not in the locker room or on the court.”

“We have a great group of guys here,” he said.  “These guys have my back regardless of how I got here.”

The young freshman is already making a name for himself on the court and off.  With some playing time under his belt, he’s just one of the Quakers- something he finds as a perk in his transition into college life.  “Being on the team, a social life just comes with it.  People just know who you are,” he said.

And nothing helps the freshman-transition like having the support of your family.  The Washington clan, especially mom and dad, have frequently been spotted in the stands cheering on the Quakers.  They’re “ecstatic” that he’s playing, he said, noting that his parents were in for his game against Temple that night.  “Since I’m the youngest my mom gets kind of lonely and comes out to see me a lot,” he added.

While Washington is yet to declare a major, he’s not worrying about his future yet.  “I hope to play basketball as long as I can until someone tells me I can’t play any more.”

And no matter what happens, he knows he has a tight knit family supporting him every step of the way.  “They told me I could do whatever I put my mind to.”

photo from http://www.tcdsb.org/images/locker%20room.jpg

College Magazine Staff

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