Sports

Air Force recuits Wildcat sharpshooter

Drew Washington, left, and Kayleigh Harper prepare to sign their letters of intent Wednesday. Washington will play basketball at the United Air Force Academy and Harper will play volleyball at Western Washington University. - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
Drew Washington, left, and Kayleigh Harper prepare to sign their letters of intent Wednesday. Washington will play basketball at the United Air Force Academy and Harper will play volleyball at Western Washington University.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

The Air Force is getting a new long range bomber.

Oak Harbor High School senior Drew Washington agreed Wednesday, Nov. 13, to play basketball for the United States Air Force Academy.

Washington, a noted three-point marksman, said he always wanted to play Division I basketball: “It has been a goal of mine since I was little.”

When Air Force first started recruiting Washington, he “wasn’t so sure” he wanted to attend the Academy. But the more he got to know the coaching staff and the Falcons’ playing style, he realized it was the place for him.

“They shoot a lot of threes,” Washington said. “They play my type of game.”

Washington, a 6-3 shooting guard, was recruited by a number of smaller schools and was leaning toward signing with the University of New England, a Division III school in Maine.

The smaller schools, he said, “could not provide for me what the Air Force could” – a chance to play college basketball at the highest level and a guaranteed job upon graduation.

Even though Air Force is the only major college to recruit Washington, he doesn’t have concerns about playing at that level: “I have always had a lot of confidence; I don’t doubt myself.”

The Air Force Academy doesn’t redshirt athletes, so Washington will attend the Air Force Prep School next year to further develop physically and prove he can handle the rigorous academic challenge of the Academy.

Military academies do not offer athletic scholarships, only appointments. Even though the Air Force Academy recruited Washington and he agreed to play for them, he still needs to be accepted into the institution.

Washington understands that the demands of academy life can be daunting and admitted “it will be tough.”

He added with a laugh, “I don’t like people yelling at me.”

But just like his belief in his basketball abilities, he is confident he can handle the stress of Academy life.

Washington said Jace Chacon of Everett High School also agreed to play basketball for Air Force, and having a good friend there should help the transition into military-college life.

Washington and Chacon play for the same AAU and fall ball teams.

Washington is the son of Mike and Rebecca Washington, and his brother, Mike Jr., is a sophomore guard on the Princeton University basketball team.

Washington Sr. is also Drew’s high school coach at Oak Harbor.

Washington Sr. said, “I am very happy for Drew and the opportunity to attend the Air Force Academy. It won’t be easy, but I think he is ready for the challenge. Having two kids play basketball at two of the most prestigious schools in the country is an outstanding feeling.”

(A story featuring Kayleigh Harper appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of the Whidbey News-Times.)

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