FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Freshman basketball forward/center Michael Washington has been declared a qualifier for the 2006-07 season by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
The university is now awaiting the completion of a review by the Southeastern Conference, as required by itsbylaws.
“Obviously there is a lot of excitement because this part of the process has been completed,” head coach Stan Heath says. “We’re happy for Michael because one hurdle has been cleared. Now we’ll anxiously wait for the outcome of the SEC’s review.”
University officials expect the review to be completed by the start of practice on Friday, Oct. 13.
As a senior at Genesis One Christian School in Mendenhall, Miss., Washington averaged 31.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 9.0 blocked shots in earning all-state and all-district honors for Coach Victor Evans. Washington was rated the No. 23 player in the nation and the No. 5 power forward in the nation by Rivals.com. He was listed as the No. 71 prospect in the country by Scout.com and No. 106 by Basketball Times.
As a junior, he played at Cleveland Heritage Christian School in Texas where he averaged 28.7 points, 13.6 rebounds and 8.0 blocked shots, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals in earning all-state honors. He shot 78 percent from the field and 79 percent from the line in helping is team finish 23-9. He was rated the No. 1 junior in Texas by one recruiting service.
As a sophomore at McGehee, he averaged 26.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots in earning all-state honors of a 15-15 team. He averaged 21.6 points and 10.7 rebounds as a freshman.
At the International Sports Invitational in San Diego in summer 2005, he played for the USA Youth Development Festival Blue Team. He averaged 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in four games, helping the USA go 3-1 and win the silver medal. He shot 64.7 percent from the floor (11-17) and 57.9 percent (11-19) at the line.
He signed with the Razorbacks after also considering North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor, among others.
In 2005, the Razorbacks went 22-10 with their most wins since 1999 and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001. UA tied for second in the SEC’s Western Division, beat two top 10-ranked teams and had the best home record in the SEC at 15-1. Under Heath, Arkansas has gone from nine wins in 2003 to 12 in 2004, to 18 in 2005 and to 22 in 2006.
Heath’s top returnees for 2007 are junior forward/center Steven Hill (3.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 blocked shots), junior forward Charles Thomas (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .520 field goal percentage), junior forward Darian Townes (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .500 field goal percentage) and junior forward Vincent Hunter (3.7 ppg). Other returnees are sophomore guard Sean McCurdy (40 assists, 18 turnovers), sophomore forward Cyrus McGowan and junior guard Preston Cranford.