Washington, Tillman team to lead No. 9 Grand Rapids Christian past Wyoming, 79-62
By Lenny Padilla
Grand Rapids – Duane Washington, Jr., was born in a small German town called Bad Honnef.
But the Grand Rapids Christian guard doesn’t speak a word of German. He is, however, fluent in basketball.
Washington scored a game-high 25 points in a 79-62 victory over Wyoming in an O-K Conference crossover on Tuesday.
Xavier Tillman, one of the state’s top players in the class of 2017, added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the host Eagles (11-1), ranked No. 9 in Class A.
“Duane has made big shots all year,” Christian coach Mark Warners said. “With the addition of Xavier down low, you have to pay attention to Duane.”
Christian led 41-28 at halftime before Wyoming went on a 12-0 run to start the third quarter. Donnie Alford scored seven points to spark the run.
That’s when Washington stepped up and scored eight points in less than a minute, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
“I have a good feel for it,” Washington said of his shot. “Every shot I take … I feel is a good shot.”
Washington, a 6-2 sophomore was born in Germany when his father was playing basketball for the Dragons Rhöndorf, a professional team located in Bad Honnef.
The elder Washington was drafted in the second round of the 1987 NBA Draft out of Middle Tennessee State by the Washington Bullets. He played 19 games in the NBA but most of his 13-year professional career was spent overseas. He did play for the Grand Rapids Hoops of the Continental Basketball Association in 1994 and 1998.
The younger Washington said his dad’s basketball experience is invaluable.
“It helps a lot,” said. “I grew up in that atmosphere going to his games.”
So has he ever been to Germany?
“I’ve never been there,” said Washington, who has dual citizenship. “But we’re supposed to go back there this summer. He’s gonna take me there and show me around.”
For now, Washington is part of a nice offense at Christian that got a boost when Tillman transferred last summer from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
“We get it to him inside and then he’ll get it back out,” Washington said of the 6-8, 230-pound Tillman. “He’ll play off me or I’ll play off him.”
Warners said Tillman has transformed his game since getting in the weight room.
“What a lot of people don’t know about X is that he works really hard off the court,” Warners said. “What you see out here on the court is the product of what he’s been working on. We have a great strength and conditioning guy and Xavier is in the weight room all the time.”
Alford, a sophomore guard, led Wyoming (8-5) with 14 points.