LEXINGTON — Kentucky’s 2021-22 roster may be tough on veteran transfers, but the Wildcats still have a star freshman that could be a one-time NBA draw.
Here’s what you need to know about freshman security guard TyTy Washington.
TyTy Washington broke John Wall’s single-game assists record
Washington has spent most of the season on the ball with junior Sahvir Wheeler taking on the point guard duties. But when Wheeler missed two games with a neck injury, Washington proved more than capable of pulling off the attack.
In Kentucky’s January 8 win over Georgia, Washington scored a program record of 17 assists.
With 1 minute to go, Washington needed one assist to equal Wall’s previous record of 16 in one game, but Tshiebwe missed a dunk attempt on a Washington lob pass. Washington was able to recover the rebound and transfer to Brooks, who converted a dunk to match the record.
Washington then broke Kentucky’s last possession record when he found Tshiebwe under the basket alone for a dunk.
“One of the staffers said, ‘You need another one, but I was already walking out of the pub, so I really didn’t know what he was saying,’ Washington said. ‘Once I got close to it. I think I had 15, all my teammates on the field told me you only need two more and you could break the record. I was like, oh shoot. That’s what I actually did there and just did it to really get the last two.”
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John Calipari calls TyTy Washington ‘the silent killer’
Kentucky coach John Calipari is no stranger to coaching freshmen, but Washington’s game is unlike many of the Wildcats’ previous high-scoring guards.
Washington has scored 20 points four times this season without attempting more than 15 shots in a game. He needed just 13 shots to score a career-high 28 points in the January 15 win over Tennessee.
“He’s like the silent killer,” Calipari said after Washington racked up a total of 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting with nine assists and one turnover in a win over High Point. “Quiet, he comes in on tiptoe and gets 15 points and nine assists, and if you ask me how he played… you would probably say, he played okay… He takes it easy.”
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TyTy Washington’s real name is Tyrone
Washington’s alliterative nickname has attracted attention. Its origins come from Washington which eschews the normal abbreviation for a junior with a first name beginning with T.
Washington’s full name is Tyrone Washington Jr. He has two siblings named Tatyana and Tyrique.
“I got it from one of my aunts and my mother,” Washington said. “I didn’t want to be called TJ. Ty is the first syllable of my name, and I’m a junior. My dad is Tyrone, so they just doubled it and came up with TyTy.”
Washington took an unusual path to Kentucky compared to many of the acclaimed freshmen who previously lined up for the Wildcats.
The Phoenix, Arizona native began his senior season ranked as the No. 73 prospect in the 2021 class by the 247Sports Composite. He joined Creighton on November 15, 2020.
Over the course of his senior year, Washington rose in the rankings, eventually peaking at number 11 overall and finishing number 15 in the 2021 class.
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Washington withdrew from Creighton in March, shortly after Creighton coach Greg McDermott was reinstated from a suspension for telling his players he needed them all to “stay on the plantation” after a loss. Washington later confirmed to The Athletic that the comment was one of the main reasons for his decision to cancel the contract.
With his hiring open, Washington quickly piled up offers from many of the top programs across the country. UK offered on April 13. Washington promised the Wildcats a month later.
Email Jon Hale at: email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ.