Washington on Washington: Anthony Left School But He Came Back

Basketball big man admitted he walked away from the UW impulsively, but he re-enrolled and flourished.
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In the 119-year history of University of Washington basketball, just one player among the thousands who have pulled on a uniform have been named Washington.

Anthony Washington. 

In 2002, he accepted a scholarship from Bob Bender, who was fired as coach before the 6-foot-9, 245-pound big man from Seattle's Garfield High could enroll in school.

Washington played two seasons for coach Lorenzo Romar and decided he wasn't all that enamored with the new staff. He gave assistant coach Ken Bone plenty of grief.

"I didn't want to listen to what coach Romar was talking about, even though he was trying to teach us how to be men," he said. "I wasn't ready for it."

He transferred to Portland State, where he sat out a season as a transfer, went through another college coaching change and found himself answering to the last guy he figured would be giving him guidance -- Bone.

Washington and Bone worked out their differences and got along for the player's two seasons on the court. Yet Anthony came to regret his decision to leave the UW after watching the Huskies make consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA tournament without him, enjoying a record 29-6 season in 2004-05.

Had he stayed, Washington might have the big body the team lacked to go with the talented but more compact Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, Bobby Jones, Jamal Williams and Nate Robinson. 

Washington was a 12-game starter as a freshman for Romar, averaging 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, until injuring a foot. As a sophomore, he came off the bench and played in all 27 games for an NCAA tourney team. 

"I just should have stayed at the University of Washington," he said. "I had to watch the next year as the team became the Pac-10 champ and a No. 1 seed. I never got to enjoy those benefits of winning."

At Portland State, Washington became a starter and averaged 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in his first season with Bone, and served as a part-time starter as a senior for a 19-13 team.

He played four years of pro basketball in Israel, Canada and the NBA D League in Idaho and Washington.

The gregarious Washington serves as a special-education and humanitarian studies teacher back at Garfield High, and he's a popular educator with the next generation.

For those who think he never should have parted ways with the Huskies, he actually reconnected with the school and completed and extended his education.

Washington returned to the UW and earned a bachelor's degree in American Ethnic studies and a Master's degree in special education. He tells his students about his rash and well-thought-out decisions, sharing his lessons in life with them.

"I tell them please don't make the same mistakes I did," he said. 

Especially if your name is Washington.