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Kyle Washington: An Appreciation

For two glorious years, Kyle Washington piled up blocks, made impossible hook shots and struck fear into the hearts of opponents.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Tulane Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Career Numbers

  • 9.0 points per game (12.1 at Cincinnati)
  • 5.1 rebounds (6.1)
  • 1.1 blocks (1.3)
  • .488/.372.694 (.507/.357/.723)

Every time a player transfers, there’s always going to be concerns about how well it will work. Not every transfer player, no matter how hyped they might be, ends up finding success at their next destination. Kyle Washington does not fall into that camp because he had one heck of a two-year ride as a Cincinnati Bearcat. Formerly from NC State, Washington came in on the same recruiting ticket as Jarron Cumberland and Nysier Brooks. He decided to leave NC State presumably because he wasn’t getting the playing time he wanted, as he averaged 18.9 minutes and 5.8 points per game during his first two seasons with the Wolfpack. The Bearcats presented an opportunity to improve on those numbers.

While he would have to wait through the 2015-16 season as a transfer student, Washington didn’t have to wait at all to become a starter once he was eligible. Across his two seasons with the Bearcats, Washington played in 72 games and started 69 of them (#nice). He got the playing time he wanted as well, averaging 24 minutes per game while making huge steps forward in production. First, the counting numbers went up, but that was obvious. In two seasons Washington netted 12.1 points per game, including a career-high of 12.9 in 2016-17. He also grabbed more rebounds (6.1 per game as a Bearcat) and blocked more shots (1.3).

More minutes is always going to lead to more stats. That’s the easy part. The more impressive aspect was that Washington didn’t just post numbers all willy nilly. He did so with improved efficiency. He only made 45.2 percent of his field goal tries with NC State, but was a better than 50 percent shooter in both of his seasons with Cincinnati. He also posted PER marks above 20 in those years and had effective field goal percentages in a much more palatable 53 percent level, while being an incredibly reliable free-throw shooter, a helpful skill for a guy that banged down low.

He also helped elevate those offensive numbers by expanding his offensive reach, providing a spread-the-floor kind of effort in the frontcourt with improved confidence in his three-point shot. He attempted 1.4 threes per game as Baercat and shot 35.7 percent from there. Admittedly, Washington’s form was not always the kind you would come across in instructional videos. His hook shots were more elbows than smooth finish and the catapult-esque delivery of his jump shot was unorthodox, but it got the job done and that’s what matters.

He was a better rebounder as a junior (15.7 rebounding percentage), but still worked hard in that regard as a senior and paired that with excellent rim protection and overall defensive work. His block percentage of 7.0 in 2017-18 was a career-high and he actually had more defensive win shares (2.3) this past season than offensive ones (1.8). Always a strong defender, Washington was a consummate Bearcat, plus his partnership with Gary Clark was something that most teams couldn’t defend or fully prepare for.

Lastly, something that does not show up in the numbers is Washington’s mean mug ability, which rivals that of Hall of Fame Mean Mug Man Justin Jackson.

The Best of the Best

Nov. 11, 2016 vs. Brown

In his first game as a Bearcat it seemed certain Washington was the next coming of Kenyon Martin. In a spectacular display, Washington scored 16 points, secured 12 rebounds, handed out five assists and blocked two shots.

Nov. 19, 2016 vs. Rhode Island

Even though the Bearcats lost this game, it wasn’t Washington’s fault. He scored a then career-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds.

Nov. 20, 2016 vs. Penn State

With 16 points and 14 rebounds, Washington recorded his second double-double as a Bearcat in just his fourth game on the roster.

Nov. 23, 2016 vs. Samford

Washington’s assault on November 2016 continued with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Washington had six double-doubles in his first season on campus and four of them came in the first seven games.

Dec. 4, 2016 vs. Bowling Green

Remember when Washington scored 23 points just a few games before this one? He did himself one better and netted 24 points while also blocking three shots.

Jan. 7, 2017 at Houston

Some mid-season stumbling affected Washington in December, but he bounced back against the Cougars with 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Jan. 15, 2018 at East Carolina

With 16 points and 11 rebounds (not to mention three blocks), Washington recorded his first double-double since Dec. 1.

Feb. 4, 2017 vs. UConn

Washington was really on in this one, scoring 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Those 27 points remain his personal best.

March 10, 2017 vs. Tulsa

Washington dropped in 21 points on a sparkling shooting effort, as he made 8-of-10 shots from the floor and all five shots at the foul line in the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

Nov. 22, 2017 vs. Wyoming

In its 78-53 victory in the Cayman Islands Classic title game, Washington showed up in a major way, scoring 16 points to go with 11 rebounds.

Dec. 16, 2017 at UCLA

Even though Washington didn’t do much rebounding in this one (four) he netted a season-high 19 points and snagged four steals and a pair of blocks.

Jan. 31, 2018 vs. Houston

A thrilling comeback win over Houston wouldn’t have happened without 19 points (including three threes) and three blocks from Washington.

Feb. 3, 2018 at UConn

Washington was here for a beautiful time when UC dominated UConn. This was another win for the Bearcats and Washington tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Feb. 11, 2018 at SMU

Its tough to shoot as well as Washington did in this game, even when most shots are near the rim. He made 8-of-11 from inside the three-point arc to net 17 points to go with eight rebounds.

March 1, 2018 at Tulane

This was another efficient game from a close range basis. Washington made 6-of-8 from two-point distance and scored 16 points to go with seven boards. Beginning with this contest, he averaged 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in March.

March 18, 2018 vs. Nevada

Even though the game’s result was terrible, Washington finished his collegiate career with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

A Final Goodbye

The 2017-18 Bearcats were one of the best teams in program history. Even if they didn’t make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, a league championship, 31 wins and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament is nothing to turn your nose at. Washington was an integral part of this squad as well as the 30-win 2016-17 one. Even though he didn’t start his career at UC, Washington finished it there and he finished strong. It’s going to be difficult watching anyone else try to score in the paint next year. Goodbye, best friend.