By LARRY VAUGHT
BENTON — For most players, the numbers would have been remarkable. For PJ Washington, he said he didn’t really consider it one of his best games.
The Kentucky signee had 23 points — he was 7-for-13 overall, 1-for-4 from 3-point range and 8-for-15 at the foul line — along with 18 rebounds (15 defensive), nine assists, five blocked shots and one steal in a 94-75 victory by Findlay Prep over Hopkinsville Friday night in the Kentucky Lake Showcase at Marshall County High School.
“I really wasn’t getting buckets tonight like usual, but I got my teammates involved and that was the best thing for me. I got some rebounds and we got the win. That was most important thing,” he said after posing for pictures with UK fans after the game.
The 6-8 Washington not only leads his team in scoring and rebounding, but he leads in assists also as shown by his pass-first mentality early in Friday night’s game.
“This year my dad has said if I get a reward (money) if I get a triple-double so that is what I have been trying to do every game. I have been trying to pass first and get buckets later,” he said.
What about just missing the triple double with nine assists?
“I know. I was mad about it, too,” he laughed and said before admitting he didn’t know he had 18 rebounds.
No Kentucky fan who watched him play was mad because he showed the variety of skills and composure that should bode well for him at times. Hopkinsville was outmanned, but the Tigers never back down and didn’t in this game. That’s one reason Washington got to the foul line 15 times.
“You just have to keep playing your game, keep teammates involved and do what the coach tells you and get a win,” Washington said.
He certainly knew Kentucky fans were at the game.
“These fans were wonderful. They were all cheering for us. I love playing in a place like this,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere. We are all happy to play in front of these great fans and I feel like we will bounce back even better tomorrow.”
He wore a UK T-shirt during pregame warmups.
“I got a rotation of four. I will bring out a different one tomorrow. I do it every game,” he said.
Findlay Prep will play Tennessee Prep tonight at 6:30 p.m. CST after Duke signee Gary Trent Jr. and Prolific Prep face Sunrise Christian at 5 and before Arizona signee DeAndre Ayton and Hillcrest Prep take on the Rock School.
His mother, Sherry, was just as excited as her husband, Paul, the head coach at Findlay Prep
“I have been watching all the Twitter feeds where everybody says they are driving down four hours or six hours to watch him play. That excites me a lot,” she said before the game.
PJ Washington actually played in the Marshall County Hoop Fest his freshman year when he was at Prime Prep. That’s the year a heavy snow forced postponement of the first day’s play.
“There was a bunch of snow on the ground. Being from Chicago, I could drive in the snow. I had to go out and find something open just to get food and then when I got back to where the team was staying, everybody wanted me to go back and get them food,” she said. “But that was my first time seeing a crowd like that. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’
“We had a very nice young man on plane with us last night to Paducah and he explained to me about how UK fans would be with PJ. But it’s great. He loves it and I’m glad they all want to see him play.”