Updated: Jun 11, 2022
6’2” combo guard George Washington III comes from a successful basketball family with both of his parents having played professionally in Finland after meeting at Abilene Christian University as college athletes. As an assistant coach at Texas for eight seasons, his father had an impact in recruiting and skill development as well as coordinating strength and conditioning programs. Additionally, his sister earned McDonald’s All-American honors prior to playing at Texas and later professionally in Spain. He has two younger brothers play alongside him at Christian Academy of Louisville (KY).
Washington had a productive AAU season on the Nike EYBL 16U circuit with JL3 Elite (TX), showcasing his efficiency as a high-volume shooter from deep where he hit 40% of his threes. The 2023 prospect is the highest-ranked recruit the Buckeyes have reeled in since D’Angelo Russell in 2014, per ESPN. Washington chose Ohio State over offers from Auburn, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Xavier, among others.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Washington discussed how getting cut from a team at an early age was an eye-opener, his off-court interests, what Ohio State fans can expect from him on the court, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Ohio State commit George Washington III, from Louisville, Kentucky:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today?
George Washington III: So both my parents actually played overseas in Finland, professional basketball. They met at Abilene Christian University. My mom is actually in the Abilene Christian Hall of Fame. Both of them were pretty successful in basketball. My mom was probably the better player (laughs). My dad ended up going into coaching and did really well as a high school basketball coach in Texas at Westbury Christian, and coached a few Nike AAU teams out of Houston. From there, he got a job at the University of Texas, so we moved to Austin. He coached there for eight years. And also my sister was a McDonald's All-American. She ended up playing at Texas. She was really good. She just went back to Spain in her third season as a pro. So I've always kind of grown up around basketball. And having parents that were really successful and playing, but didn't make it to that highest level, they really understood what it takes, and the amount of work it takes, and the skills needed to push me. I feel like just having that around me God really blessed me to be in a situation where I have great people around to push me to where I am today. It’s been great.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
GW: I mean if you count YMCA flag football. My team, I think we probably went like three seasons and gave up like a first down like the whole year. I mean I love football. Football is hands-down my second-favorite sport. If I didn’t play basketball, I’d probably play football but I've learned with my build, it just really isn't for me. I love basketball. I couldn't see myself not playing it.
PI: What was the turning point in which you dedicated yourself exclusively to basketball?
GW: Hmm, I think it was probably around fourth or fifth grade when I first started playing AAU basketball. I actually was playing one or two years up, I can't quite remember, and I got cut from the team. And I remember sitting with my dad and we just kind of had a talk like “is this something you want to really go after and push? If it is, this is where we take the first steps to really get to a different level, or is it something you want…” I mean, I obviously have fun playing either way, but it was like “is this something you just kind of want to do like on the side for fun and go back to playing in the YMCA and just pick up with friends?” I feel like that was kind of like a crossroads for me where I realized I really wanted to get better at this and this is something I love doing. I feel like God's calling me to do it.
PI: For those that aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths?
GW: I'd say definitely my two greatest strengths are probably my ball handling and shooting ability. Ever since I was little, I haven't always been the most athletic. That's really changed I feel like now but growing up, I was always a little slower so working on my handles and shooting and shooting the ball the right way was something that I really focused on because it was something I always had control over. Now, I feel like I've gotten a lot more comparisons to like a Jamal Murray, a player that has that shot-creating ability, handling, can play kind of the one or two, but also he can get to the basket and make plays at the rim. Being able to be in the weight room and really lift and train my body has been big. My athleticism has really taken the next step, really from watching film, like watching people like Rondo, Chris Paul, and D’Angelo Russell. Passing has been another thing that I think I've taken major steps in and also I feel like that Jamal Murray is probably the best comparison.
PI: Do you have a training regimen when you go to the gym?
GW: I think it really helped having my dad because he's been around basketball for so long. He loves studying what he does. So from that, I kind of was able to sit there and see like every time I got in the gym, we used to do heavy ball form shots, big ball form shots, regular ball form shots, and then we start slowly [shooting] mid range, three-pointers, deeper pull-ups and working inside-out. Having him always check my fundamentals and making sure I'm on track with the basics really, really helped.
PI: Who do you train with besides your father?
GW: In Texas, Martinez Martin. He works for I’m Possible. He trained my sister, that was in Austin. I think I can remember almost there's like a stretch during the summertime, where I think every Saturday we're at this little tiny middle school gym. At one point, the floor was carpet. They fixed it eventually, but I'd be there from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M. We’d just be in the gym, hanging out, working out, go get something to eat, do another workout, take a rest, hit another workout. He really pushed my playmaking, finishing, and ball handling. The other guy in Texas, John Lucas, I play for his AAU team so having him and someone who is always around pros, it helps so much, and his approach to the game and how he sees it is incredible. He’s great. And now moving here, Dion Lee has been another guy that I've always stayed in the gym with. He’s worked with Rondo and D'Angelo Russell, and his repertoire and the way he sees the game, his IQ is insane, and that's something he's really helped me with. I'm just looking at the game in a different way. And seeing maybe that when I drive this way, my left foot may lag a little bit, so I'm a little slower getting into that shot which is causing me to turn and take a tougher shot. Like the way he's able to break down every single thing I do, and add a level of detail that I've never seen before is incredible. So I've been blessed with a lot of trainers that really know what they're doing and have been able to push me.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
GW: I mean, I feel like my basketball IQ is pretty high. But working with Dion, I think the thing we've talked about is how Rondo is able to see the game, and how LeBron James is able to see the game. And being in the gym and watching Harden play pickup, how he's able to see the game, it's a different level. So I really feel like honing my mindset, that degree of sharpness is really, really important for my development, and also my body. I don't think to play basketball you need to put on 35 pounds of muscle, but gaining, having usable strength and strong strength, like strength with my frame is important. Physicality, like being bulky and physicality aren’t the same thing, but being physical when I play is really important.
PI: Describe your experience with JL3 Elite.
GW: It was great. We had a great team. It was honestly a great experience because we didn't have as many practices like every weekend, but we would come in for a few weeks at a time. And just, it would be training. It’s kind of hard to even call it practice because every time we'd be in the gym, it would just be everybody…pros, college guys. We’d all be in the gym and just work, and I mean we have a few sets and plays but we get up and down. Almost everything was competition and training and the amount of improvement that was made like having two-a-days for like two weeks, and then being able to go back home. The amount of improvement made was incredible. [Coach Lucas] knows how to get the best out of you and he's able to do it consistently. And it really showed, I mean I feel like we somewhat underperformed with who we had through most of the AAU season. And then when we got to the Peach Jam, everything just fell in and came together. All the work that we put in really showed in that moment. It was a great feeling, great group of guys, too.
PI: What are your current measurements?
GW: Height-wise, I'm around 6’2, 6’3. Wingspan last I checked was probably one or two inches taller than I am. And weight, I'm like 176, 175 [pounds].
PI: What are your short term goals that you have for yourself as a player?
GW: So this year, I think this is a goal me and my dad set for myself, because last year, I was really close during the school year to 50/40/90. Actually I was at 50/40/90 before our last game, and dropped to like, I think 49/37/94 after our last game but I want to aim for 50/50/90 [shooting splits]. I think pushing efficiency is a big next step, too, because not only being able to score a lot of points, but also being able to do it on as few shots as possible really opens up everything from my playmaking and it helps me push the tempo of the game. Then the other thing I feel like would be rebounding, really pushing my rebounding. I want to be at around seven, at least seven [rebounds] a game. I think that's a really reachable goal, especially with my athleticism now. So, I feel like those are things right now that I'm locked in on especially. Of course, outside of those, really being a leader for the team this year. Staying vocal and hopefully winning state.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
GW: Man, I’d probably say it's kind of weird because as much as I love being around in the city, fishing is one of my favorite things to do. I'm pretty much into any kind of fishing. I also love pretty much any kind of music. Anything from Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass to J. Cole or to a guy like Zach Bryan who does country. I love just kind of sitting down and listening to music. Those are probably the two things that I love doing in my off time.
PI: What’s the biggest fish you ever caught?
GW: So the palm wasn't that big, but it was probably there (estimating the length using his hands). It was a decent-sized bass. It wasn’t anything crazy.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
GW: Three personal items…umm, I’d probably say my phone, because I would want music, so like a phone or mp3 player, whatever would work for that. A Bible. And let me see…that third…a basketball.
PI: We could bring the court and the hoop for you.
GW: (Laughs) Or bring a little basket, punch a hole in the basket, hang it on a tree.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
GW: #Different. #Different, that's something I probably annoy my friends with saying, or something. I love walking around, just saying I'm built different. I think one of the biggest parts of making an impact in something is being different. Going along with the flow is kind of playing it safe. If you look at anyone who's really made a splash in anything that they've done, being different and setting themselves apart from others was the first step.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
GW: My first purchase..I'd probably go and get a bunch of food for me and my friends, that's probably the first thing. I'm not really set on “I want this car” or “I want a house.” To me that stuff is, it's kind of whatever right now. I'm more focused on if I'm doing something outside of basketball, just making connections with people.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
GW: I feel like it might have something to do with what I’m thinking of majoring in, going into something philosophy-based or political science. I feel like those are two things that really interest me. Maybe something musically since I just love it so much. It’s probably one of those three.
PI: Congratulations on your commitment, by the way! What was the Ohio State’s coaching staff reaction when you told them?
GW: It was great. I'm not really sure if they were expecting it. It wasn't even really on our timetable of things to do. It was just after the visit, it was kind of stacking things. They’ve always been at the top of my list. Every visit I've had with them really just solidified that more. And it got to a point after that one that me and my parents were like if we really know, this is the right place, why wait? So telling them, I'm not sure how prepared they were. It was kind of a surprise, like a surprise moment, but it was really exciting. Really exciting.
PI: What are you most looking forward to about Ohio State?
GW: I think the fan base that they have and the energy they have on campus is insane. I feel like even being there for a football game and then watching a basketball game on TV, just seeing how much they care about their athletes, and just how positive the campus feels is amazing.
PI: What can Ohio State fans expect from you on the court?
GW: I think a lot of exciting basketball: playmaking, deep threes, maybe a few highlight posters if we get in the right situation, but I mean I think it's going to be fun. I think my class is going to come there and will really make a difference. We'll really continue the Ohio State legacy.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
GW: Hmm…I’d probably say there's two things. I can't remember who told me the first one. I feel like it's kind of just a combination of things I've heard from my dad and grandparents and it helps me that whenever I'd have to do something that it's like a test, a game, or anything and it's really don't stress about the test or the game, or whatever, because you've put in the work, you've studied, and you've done that beforehand. And really the answer and how it turns out is up to God. And all you can do if it doesn't work is get back and work harder the next time and learn from it. Don't get held up on mistakes and understand that life keeps going. You're going to get another chance. And then the other one, it's kind of helped me deal with a lot of stuff. It's really helpful, I feel like when you're dealing with people, and I was reading a book I can't remember what it was called. But it said something along the lines of “be careful how you judge people because if you were born where they were born, who they were and went through everything that they've been through, you would have made the same life decisions that they've made.” I feel like that's really important when you're interacting with someone and you're talking with someone, you understand what you guys have gone through isn't the same. It really helps you look at interactions with people from a different point of view.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
GW: I think it's maximizing what you can do and what you're capable of and reaching a point where you’re content and you can look back and be proud of what you've done and accomplished.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
GW: Definitely my dad, my sister, and my grandpa. I think like how they're all able to…especially how my dad is able to remain so positive through everything, he's probably one of the most positive people I know. His confidence is something I really borrow from him. It is insane and it's the fact that he's very confident and he's not arrogant or cocky with it. He's very grounded and just positive and in everything we do he's like “this will work out, it will be okay and if it doesn't work out, we'll find some way to fix it.” And I mean that's had a really big impact on me and my sister. With my sister, like just how much she's able to go through, how much she's gone through, how strong she is, and how much she’s been able to accomplish has been really inspiring to me.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
GW: Talkative, confident, goofy, and understanding.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for as a player and as a person?
GW: I think I feel like they're kind of intertwined for me. I want to be someone who made a difference. On the court, someone that people, however long, however far away from now look back and are like “oh, I remember that guy, he played and he was able to do this and that.” But also I feel like even bigger off the court, I want to be someone that when I'm gone, people will be like “he touched me. He made a difference. He told me this and it really helped me get through this. He was always laughing. He was always able to make someone else laugh.” That’s something that I really want to be known for when it’s all said and done.