2023-24 Season

Past transitions could help George Washington III carve out role with Wolverines

George Washington III calls it beautiful.

After his father took a job coaching Dayton, the rising senior left Christian Academy of Louisville to enroll at Dayton’s Chaminade Julienne high school. A roster that lost nearly all its top players from the previous season, the 2022-23 Eagles needed four-star recruit Washington to play a big role.

So during a University of Dayton team camp, his new senior classmates took action. With their newcomer in tow, their coach unlocked the gym where the senior players spent the night teaching him Chaminade’s plays and tendencies for the tournament.

However well those late-night lessons soaked in, the opportunity, more importantly, connected him with teammates. That set the stage for a 14-0 win streak to start the season, a run to the Ohio high school semifinals and helped Washington capture Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year award. Much of that, he attributes to the Eagles’ close bonds forged in that Dayton gym.

“The second that I met (my Chaminade teammates), it was very apparent that skill-wise and talent-wise, we were going to be one of the best teams in the state despite the lack of experience that they had,” Washington told Defend the Block podcast. “The best way I could compare it is to this place. It was a family right off the bat.”

Summer Promo!

Join UM Hoops today and be covered through next season for just $32! Use the promo code SPRING23 to unlock our content and join our community today!

Join Today

A 14-0 start for Michigan, however, is more than ambitious considering the roster turnover this offseason. But the parallels to Washington’s previous stop matter in the grand scheme of its roster construction. As the lone freshman working into a guard rotation with much to figure out, Washington is joining a lot of players who will take on increased roles in the 2023-24 campaign.

Just like the majority of his senior year teammates were new to Chaminade varsity, Washington joins a roster in flux. Whether it’s transfers taking big roles like Nimari Burnett or Olivier Nkamhoua, or even rising bench players such as Youssef Khayat or Tarris Reed, the Wolverines project to rely on new faces. Washington’s familiarity with change might ease the transition, especially as a lone freshman learning the collegiate ropes alone.

The difficulty of that challenge doesn’t faze Washington. He’s confident in his choice of Michigan, one that his father helped him realize even though the elder Washington didn’t get a chance to visit Ann Arbor beforehand. Instead, he and his son looked at a list of statistics he made to compare Washington’s options. Michigan ranked among the best, confirming feelings that Washington held from meeting the Wolverines’ staff.

“Looking at it, it was kind of validation because I was already saying here — ‘Michigan feels like the right place,’ ” Washington said. “And I’m sitting here with everything I had already said was important, all the statistics and all of that. And to watch it line up too, it kind of worked twofold for me.”

As a combo guard who plays closer to a pro style, Washington hopes to impact games with his ball-handling and shooting. He believes those skills can help him stand out against other guards on the offensive end. He also has big plans on defense, which is an area he’s focused his growth the past two seasons.

“I’d really say for me, (I’m) focusing on that part to where having me out there on the defensive end is a strength and benefitting the team,” Washington said. “I want to be one of the best defensive guys in the Big Ten, especially on the freshman side. That’s gonna be one thing I’m really trying to lock into.”

Heightening his defensive play has been a focus since he played in Louisville, and it’s something that trainer Dion Lee has worked on with Washington for a while. It’s easy to set high expectations, but Washington will have to prove he can meet them on a Michigan team that lost its best defender in Kobe Bufkin to the NBA.

That makes Washington a much-needed contributor for the Wolverines, especially after off-season departures left major gaps in the guard rotation. At point guard, Dug McDaniel and Jaelin Llewellyn should split the lion’s share of minutes, but the ‘2’ is more wide open battle.

Burnett projects to be firmly in the mix, but the remaining cast is less guaranteed. There will likely be significant juggling between positions to make ends meet at the position.  Washington plays a position of need and is known for shooting the ball, a roster weakness, so he could theoretically work his way into that rotation full of teammates who just haven’t taken the court much — just like at Chaminade.

He can also lean on his shot, one picked up from lessons his mom, Jackie, taught him as an All-American and pro player herself.

To make the most of those skills, though, Washington has to rise to the changes he faces as a freshman. All that makes his past experience with the Eagles an advantage for Washington. He’s been in these shoes before, and he knows how to run in them. That’s why the situation is “beautiful,” as he puts it, with his past acting as a roadmap to the future.

If this works out as well as his last big change, then the journey could take him to an impact role come November.

Notable Replies

  1. Wayman_Britt

    Are there any wing/guards that UM is looking at and that are interested in playing at Michigan, or is this roster set?

  2. umhoops

    They still want to add a wing. Johnny Furphy is one name, but feels like a long shot until we hear more there.

    Think they will keep playing the field and see who enters the portal in August.

  3. colin

    We’re not adding anyone, GWIII is starting at the 2. Heard it here first.

To Top