After recruiting rise, Ohio State to again host 2023 guard George Washington III

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Ballard's Kennedy Hayden goes for a layup under pressure from Christian Academy of Louisville's George Washington Tuesday night. The Bruins won 66-61. Feb. 2, 2021

He’s a top-40 prospect nationally and one of the best guards in the 2023 recruiting class.

But one year ago, George Washington III was at a new school getting ready for his first practice. After growing up in Texas and playing his first season of college basketball at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy in Austin, Washington’s family relocated to Kentucky, where he enrolled at Christian Academy of Louisville. When he entered the gym for the first day of practice during the fall of 2020, he was joining a team anchored by seven seniors.

According to coach Aaron Hill, who was also entering his first year with the program, it did not faze the sophomore.

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“Day one, when George was a sophomore, he basically took over as the vocal leader, as the captain, as the champion of the team,” Hill said. “He just stepped right in and said, ‘Guys, come with me. Let’s do this together and let’s build around this.’ ”

Now, Washington is a highly rated recruit being pursued by a number of high-major programs including Ohio State, one of at least six schools he plans to visit this fall. The son of a coach and younger brother of a WNBA player, Washington was an unranked recruit until July 16, when he vaulted to No. 44 in the 247Sports.com composite database. He has since climbed four more spots and enters his second season with the Centurions as a four-star prospect ranked No. 40 nationally.

His appearance in the rankings came one month and one day removed from an unofficial visit to Ohio State, which on June 15 also became the first school to offer him a scholarship.

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“They contacted me pretty early,” Washington said. “I love coach (Ryan) Pedon and coach (Chris) Holtmann. They’re both great guys. They were my second visit and first offer. I love the coaches there, the campus. It’s a great school.”

There is a connection. Hill has a neighbor who played collegiate basketball at the University of Toledo before transferring to Bellarmine, where the two met. Hill was in his wedding, which also featured two of Pedon’s childhood friends. Once Hill got the job at Christian Academy of Louisville, he reached out to Pedon and established a connection.

Pedon was at the school last Thursday to watch Washington during a 6 a.m. workout. This month, Washington has taken visits to Cincinnati and Tennessee and will go to Louisville (Saturday), Ohio State (September 25), Liberty (October 8-10) and Memphis on October 16 before his team starts practice.

“It’s really exciting,” Washington said. “It’s great. It’s just a blessing. It’s still kind of hard to believe that it’s at this point right now and even crazier to think I’m not all the way there yet. I’m really excited to get to go on campuses and meet the coaching staff at these schools and hopefully build good relationships.”

Ohio State, Tennessee, Louisville, Auburn and Liberty, among others, are known to have offered.

As a sophomore, Hill said Washington averaged around 24 points per game while using his 6-2, 165-pound frame to get to the free-throw line, where he shot 93%. This season, Hill said Washington will likely average around 30 points per game, but his focus this offseason has been on improving his rebounding and defensive abilities.

He is listed as a combo guard by 247Sports. Hill said most schools see that as his future role, although he can also be a true point guard.

“I think a lot of the high-major schools I’ve been talking to, including coach Holt and Pedon, they see ‘G’ being able just to be a great basketball player that they will need to have on the court,” the coach said. “Whether that’s having him play the 1 or the 2, it depends on what the other personnel’s going to be. They really feel like he can be on the court with multiple lineups, and that’s how I see it too.”

Hill said Washington carries a 4.1 grade-point average. When it comes to picking a school, academics will be a factor alongside culture, comfort level with the coaching staff and the overall community surrounding the school.

The plan is to visit schools now, play his junior season, trim his list to possibly three schools a year from now and make a final decision before his senior season.

“He isn’t just looking for a school that has the big name,” his coach said. “He wants to make sure it’s the right fit with the coaching staff and for player development too, because his ultimate goal is to be a pro and we feel he’s on the track to do that.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy