PJ Washington, Team Penny
"He's really the missing piece for Team Penny."
There are only seven players from the 2017 class playing in the EYBL, accounting for roughly 1.7 percent of the league. Team Penny forward PJ Washington is one of them, joining Penny late in scouting process and earning very high praise from his star teammate. The implementation of the 6-foot-8 prospect in Team Penny's rotation is huge for their championship aspirations, and Lawson couldn't he happier to be running with him.
"Everyone on our team has embraced him as a big piece of our squad," Lawson explained. "He really is the key to our success."
A Peach Jam Final Four participant a year ago, Team Penny adds Washington to a lineup that returns the majority of their core from 2013. Penny's staff pulled off something rare by securing a player that could not only make an immediate impact, but give them a building block for the future. With the return of guard Kevaughn Allen, Washington shores up a roster that now has virtually no blemishes up and down the lineup. Blessed with pure, raw athleticism and an improving offensive arsenal, Washington gives Penny another active swingman, who causes matchup problems for defenses across the circuit.
The first glimpse of Washington in a Penny uniform took place at The Real Deal at the Rock, an elite AAU primer in mid-April. In the most recent EYBL session in Dallas, Washington had four productive games to help Penny go to 7-1 overall and a potential No. 1 ranking in the next D1 Power 10 Rankings. Courtside Films' reporter Eric Hines saw Washington perform at the tournament, and walked away as impressed as his scouting counterparts.
"He has a great combo of size and skill for a freshman," Hines said of the freshman. "He has all the potential to be a top five power forward in the 2017 class."
A freshman earning quality minutes on a Peach Jam contender is seldom-seen, but even more rare is the opportunity to learn from older teammates who are elite front court recruits. The Lawson brothers, the aforementioned Dedric and his older brother K.J., are a two-headed monster in the frontcourt for Penny, employing a relentless attack at both ends of the floor. The Lawson brothers combine to average the second most points of any front court duo in the EYBL, and figure to be even more productive with the development of Washington Starring as a freshman on last year's Final Four team, Dedric sees greatness in his younger teammate, and loves calling him his running mate.
"Me and my older brother (K.J.) have known PJ since he was in the 7th grade," Lawson said. "Now it's really fun to have him on the court with us. You could say that we've taken him under our wing."
While the goal remains winning the illustrious Peach Jam title, playing for Team Penny will open up all sorts of avenues for Washington. He has found a home that has his best interests at heart, while being given the opportunity to ease into a starring role. It's still very early in his basketball career, but it will not be a surprise if the uber-talented Washington winds up being a top-five player in the 2017 class.