WASHINGTON -- Whether it was on his mind or not, there was some significance to TyTy Washington visiting D.C. over the weekend for a pre-draft workout for the Wizards. It was held in the city where two NBA players he looks up to made a name for themselves.
D.C. is where Allen Iverson became a sensation at Georgetown University, before he was the No. 1 pick and enjoyed a Hall of Fame NBA career. D.C. is also where John Wall, who went to Kentucky just like Washington did, began his illustrious NBA career, also as a No. 1 pick.
Washington, only 20, is too young to have watched Iverson in his prime. Yet, he was inspired enough to choose the No. 3 jersey at Kentucky because of 'The Answer.'
"His mentality; he was an undersized guard, so he just went in there every day ready to work. He didn’t care who was in front of him. At the end of the day, he wanted to destroy them and he wanted to win. My dad started putting that in my head at a young age," Washington said, later adding:
"To see the way Allen Iverson carries himself, he doesn’t care what people think about him. As long as him and his family are straight, that’s all that really matters. That’s how I pretty much live. Back in the day, I used to have straight-backs like him as well. Yeah, I definitely want to be like A.I."
Washington has a more direct relationship with Wall, who has offered him advice over the past year-plus. Washington actually beat Wall's single-game assists record at Kentucky with 17 dimes against Georgia in January.
That was a pivotal moment for Washington, who was All-SEC as a freshman.
"I definitely looked up to him. His little signature dance got me kind of hipped onto him. Seeing that, his high school mixtape, his college highlights and then seeing what he did in the NBA, it’s definitely amazing. Nobody has ever seen anybody that big and that fast doing the stuff he was doing," Washington said.
As for Wall's advice, Washington said it was all about how to thrive under Kentucky head coach John Calipari. He told Washington to embrace how hard Coach Cal pushes his players because it makes them better prepared for the NBA level.
Related: Could TyTy Washington be Wizards' long-term answer at point guard?
Washington is trying to be the latest Kentucky guard to surpass expectations coming out of the draft. The list is long; Devin Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyler Herro, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley. Washington believes that impressive trend is all because of how well Calipari prepares his players for the NBA grind. He has been mentored by several of Calipari's former players including Booker (plus Booker's father), Quickley, Maxey and Tyler Ulis.
Washington can count many influences in his basketball life, but the one who stands out the most would have to be his mother, Felicia. Both of his parents played college basketball, but his mother's path includes a major 'what if' that has stuck with him throughout his own journey in the sport.
"Word around the street in Arizona, everybody says my mom was really cold. Like, she could have gone all the way [to the WNBA]. Fortunately, she got pregnant with me and had me. So, I kind of keep that in my mind as I’m going out here playing. Just knowing that she could have made it, but she stopped to have me, so I feel like I kind of owe it back to her," he said.
Felicia helped teach him the game from an early age and he credits her for his advanced ability to finish around the rim. She has always emphasized footwork and angles off the glass.
Washington says his father, Tyrone Sr., helped him learn how to finish through contact, which is also a standout skill for him. Back home in Phoenix, AZ they would wake up early to beat the sun, as Tyrone Jr. would push him around as he tried to finish around the basket. Washington says his younger brother also helped that cause as a serial fouler.
Washington had a fun conversation with the media following his workout with the Wizards. He said he's an avid bowler and has dreams of playing professionally after his NBA career is over.
Washington's workout with the Wizards was cut a bit short due to a knee-to-knee contact bruise, which he didn't believe was anything serious. It's unclear if that affected his scheduled workouts with the Spurs and Pelicans. He had already visited the Thunder, Knicks and Cavaliers before coming through D.C.
Washington said he's trying to show teams he is a pure point guard after playing some off-the-ball at Kentucky last year. He happened to go up against another one of the best point guards in this draft class, Dyson Daniels, at his Wizards workout.
The Wizards are in need of a long-term solution at the point guard position. Wall worked out very well for them, so maybe they will go back to Kentucky to find their guy.