George Washington: Assistant Coach at
University of Texas
George Washington just completed his fifth season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Texas. Washington serves as the Longhorns’ recruiting coordinator and assists with instructing post players on the court. He has been a part of a Texas recruiting effort that has resulted in three consecutive top-six national recruiting classes. His player development has led to two post players getting drafted in the WNBA – Imani Boyette and Nneka Enemkpali. Prior to his appointment at Texas, Washington was a highly successful high school and club coach in the state for eight years.
The Offseason: Players
At Texas, the women’s basketball program is on campus for the entire summer except for a mandatory two-and-a-half-week period where they don’t have any team activities. During that off period more emphasis is made on resting than it is on skill development. Why? They recruit self-determined players that have an automatic drive to get better and work on their weaknesses, so it is important to remind them when to stay off their feet.
Team building is an essential area for improvement for the Texas women’s basketball team during the summer. They have a specific staff member that focuses on team building and sport psychology. The frequency of events varies as sometimes they are doing things weekly, sometimes it is bi-weekly. Those events range from community service to various off the court team activities. Part of their recruiting philosophy is to recruit the type of young women that will naturally spend time together off the court together or call one another to go and work on aspects of their game so oftentimes team bonding takes place without facilitation.
When asked if they have a certain method to holding players accountable during their off time or while they are on campus, Coach Washington explained, “If the coach has to hold the players accountable for the time when they (the staff) are not around, then you have problems with your culture. The players hold each other accountable. It is from top to bottom and not solely on the captains.” He added, “The sophomores should be talking to the freshmen about what to expect and what needs to be done to have a successful freshman year. The juniors should be talking to the sophomores and the pattern continues.”
One thing that makes this offseason at Texas more unique than the others is that they have a foreign trip planned for Italy in August. When asked how much emphasis is on having fun and bonding versus practice and playing games, Washington said, “The entire focus is on bonding. We have really talented pieces that we are trying to integrate. That integration happens on a personal level before it happens on a basketball level. When you understand somebody as a person, you play better together.”
The Offseason: Staff
First up was a discussion on personal development. “You can’t ask your kids to get better if you are not willing to do the same.” He likes to approach his offseason just like the players should in terms of focusing in on certain areas he wants to return to the season better at. One example is to study ways to make your team a better shooting team, whether it be drills, different ways to coach the players’ mentality, or something like different offensive wrinkles.
Personal development is a big piece but so recharging your batteries. A way that Coach Washington recharges is taking two, week and a half to two-week periods off. While the time is great, he also loves the game and “would sleep on a basketball court if people didn’t think I was crazy.” That passion is what helps him recharge, too. Just as Washington is passionate about the game, so is his boss, Coach Karen Aston, to a point where at times the staff has to make her take breaks. The love for what you do is great, regardless of profession, but as Washington put it, “Everyone needs time off.”
Finally, we discussed his networking routines and philosophy where he emphasized a focus on building authentic relationships. What comes easily for Coach Washington is his ability to communicate as he thoroughly enjoys being around and talking with people. For him, he is in a constant state of building his network. As he put it, “You never know what this life has in store for you and who will be your next boss, next assistant, or next friend. You should constantly be in this state of building your network.” The abundance of time allows for the ease of communication during the offseason but it is something Washington stresses he maintain year round.
Follow Coach George Washington on Twitter: @CoachGeorge15
About the Author: Lindsay Scarlatelli
Currently in transition, Lindsay Scarlatelli just finished up three seasons at Miami (OH) University as their Director of Basketball Operations. Prior to Miami she spent two seasons as an Assistant Coach – one with Oakland University women’s basketball as their Recruiting Coordinator and one with University of Illinois-at Chicago (UIC) in a dual role also serving as their Director of Operations. She received her Master’s from Michigan State University in 2012 and was part of the program’s first-ever outright Big Ten Championship in 2011. An avid learner, Scarlatelli has attended 25 conferences, clinics, and seminars during the last decade.
Follow Lindsay Scarlatelli on Twitter: @LindsayScar34