Coletrane Washington (above) moved from Philly to Pittsburgh five years ago, but will return for college. (Photo courtesy Washington family)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Even though he’s lived out in the Pittsburgh area for the last five years, Coletrane Washington still considers Philadelphia his home.
The Quaker Valley (Pa.) senior was born in Texas and then spent a couple years in New Jersey before his family settled in the Drexel Hill in 2004, when Washington was just four years old.
In the summer after his sixth grade year at Friends’ Central, Washington’s family moved across the state, settling in the area north of Pittsburgh so his mother could be closer to her family.
And though he’s made a name for himself on the hoops courts in the WPIAL, his heart has always stayed east.
“I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for about four or five years,” Washington said, “and I mean, I like it here, it’s a nice city and all, but Philly’s always been my home. Every time I visit and I leave, it feels like the first time I left, I really miss it.”
He’s not going to have to feel that way much longer.
Washington will be spending his college years back where he grew up, as he announced his commitment to Drexel University last weekend. Washington actually made the decision two weeks prior, shortly after an official visit to the West Philly institution, but didn’t make it public until Saturday.
Drexel coach Zach Spiker and staff first saw Washington this summer when he was playing with the Bridge City AAU program. Though he was entering his senior year of high school, Washington was playing on the 16U circuit as he was leaning towards an eventual prep year and entering the Class of 2019.
But the Dragons’ staff had a different idea for the 6-foot-4, 165-pound wing guard.
“They said they wanted me for 2018 from the jump, and they just said that they thought I was under-recruited as a player,” Washington said. “They said they’re just looking for guys, they need more length in their guard sports, they have two shorter guards and they’re looking for length in their wings who can shoot, and I think I fit that category pretty well.”
As a junior at Quaker Valley, Washington averaged just over 16 ppg, leading a Quakers squad that won 25 games and advanced to the PIAA Class 4A state semifinals before losing to eventual runner-up Strong Vincent.
This year, he’ll be one of the leaders and a big reason why Quaker Valley has its sights set on an appearance in Hershey this March. Washington enters the season within 100 points of 1,000, and that shouldn’t be a number he’ll have any issue reaching -- considering he’s knocked down over 100 3s as both a sophomore and a junior, according to QV coach Mike Mastroianni.
“What has made him into a player of Drexel’s level is he’s rounded his total game out,” Mastroianni added. “He’s not just a shooter anymore; he goes off the dribble real well, he’s got a mid-range game, he can create space and create his shot. He’s a really high-level shooter, high-percentage shooter, but he’s worked really hard on rounding out his total game.”
Drexel was the only Division I school to offer Washington; he also had a scholarship offer from D-II Pitt-Johnstown. Lafayette, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris and a few others had shown varying levels of interest.
Though the fact that Drexel was his only Division I offer made them plenty attractive already, the school’s location made it a no-brainer.
“Going to college, it’s a big jump, it’s a big step in your life, turning into adulthood, and it’s nice to have a support group around you who can help you, not just your coaches but your family,” he said. “I have a lot of family and friends in the area, so if I ever need anything I can just go to them instead of being in a completely random city no one you really know around.”
Washington is the oldest of four: his younger sister Corinne, 14, is a freshman at QV, and 10-year-old twins Zack and Zora round out the family. Washington’s mother, Dr. Alaina James, is a dermatologist. His father, Jesse Washington, is a senior writer at ESPN’s The Undefeated who walked onto Yale’s basketball team as an undergrad in the late 1980s.
“My dad put the ball in my hand at a very young age, and basketball was the first sport I ever played,” Washington said. “My dad showed me pictures of me playing basketball, holding a basketball before I could ever walk. Ever since I was a baby, I’ve just been playing basketball.”
Washington said he plans on a major in business, with a minor in journalism or communications.
Last season, the first under Spiker, the Dragons finished 9-23 overall and 3-15 in CAA play. They’re going to have minutes available on the wing next season, as off-guards Miles Overton and Sammy Mojica are in their final years of eligibility.
“I’m excited and I’m grateful for the opportunity that was given to me, definitely,” Washington said, “and I’m just excited to get up there and get to work and contribute.”