Crestwood High School's Ashanti Washington had to wait a little longer than she hoped due to the coronavirus, but she was finally able to find her next basketball stop this week, as she signed to play at Southwest Virginia Community College. Washington was thrilled to see her patience pay off.
"I've waited a really long time, and if I'm being honest, I didn't at one point give up," said Washington on her long recruiting process. "My family had faith in me and my friends had faith in me and kept pushing me to keep pushing through. Earning this scholarship was a big confidence booster. It helped me get my head back in the game.
"It's exciting," continued the Crestwood senior. "I'm definitely ready to play at the collegiate level, because this is what I've been dreaming of for a long, long time, ever since I started playing basketball."
The coronavirus made recruitment difficult for Washington because she didn't get a chance to visit any potential schools in person. It also made it tougher to find schools interested in adding more athletes on scholarship, but she was finally able to find a fit with Southwest Virginia.
"It helped and it hurt me. It helped me by making me work harder and giving me more time to fix my recruiting profile, but it hurt me because I can't go out and see the coaches," said Washington. "The coaches can't come see me, so it was really just a virtual thing. If I see it online, that's what I have to go off of."
Crestwood head coach Tony Wilson is thrilled Washington was finally able to find a place to show off her skills.
"This is awesome. Ashanti is a quality basketball player," said Wilson. "When she got here, she was a great scorer, but she's improved her game to be an all-around player. She can get to the basket, she can shoot, she can play defense. When she really locks in and gets her mind to what she wants to do, it's tough to stop her. She has that mentality to go all out and she's a real good student in the classroom.
"She's really an athletic and talented young lady and I'm happy she's getting a chance to continue and play college basketball."
Originally, Washington was planning on finding a school in South Carolina at which to play but moving out of state won't be new to the Crestwood senior. Washington is a military kid, so she's moved a few times. She didn't come to Crestwood until late in her freshman year, so she missed out on playing basketball for the Lady Knights until her sophomore season. All that moving helped prepared her to make another move to Virginia.
"I'm a military kid, so I'm kind of used to moving around and going from state to state," said Washington. "I think I'm able to adapt quickly, but spreading my wings is definitely something that I've been waiting on, but I'll definitely miss my family a lot more."
Southwest Virginia didn't reach out to Washington until after the pandemic started, so all of her interactions with the coaching staff and the school have been virtual, but she knew pretty quickly that she would like playing for the coaches.
"The coaches, definitely," said Washington on what drew her to Southwest Virginia. "The coaches were very excited to look at my highlights and the thought of me being on their team. They were really quick about their stuff and it was a very homey feeling. I had all the right reactions."
The Crestwood senior also hopes that two strong years at Southwest Virginia will lead to a chance to make the jump to a larger program for her final two years.
"I definitely hope I can go (NCAA) D(ivision)I or DII after this," said Washington.
Washington has been through ups and downs at Crestwood, but she's certainly leaving the school on a high note. The Lady Knights made it to the 4A Lower State championship game this winter, and Washington thinks that playoff run helped prepare her to play in front of college crowds.
"With us going so far, I definitely got that big stadium feeling, the big court feeling," said Washington. "I'm glad I got that before I went to college, so it wasn't brand new to me."
Washington is glad to be done with recruiting. She just wants to hit the ground running as soon as possible.
"I'm definitely most excited about my first game, honestly, maybe my first practice," said Washington. "I'm just excited to be playing at the college level."
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