Perspective guides Washingtons plans
"The now" isn't what caught Isaiah Washington's eye.
The 6-foot-4, 185 pound guard out of Williamsport, Pa., has been through enough successes and failures already in his hoops career to understand how quickly things can change. His own Millionaires went from a senior-laden title-winning team into a young, 12-12 squad fighting to establish an identity this past season.
So when evaluating the progress, or lack-thereof, for the Penn State men's basketball program - his future home in a matter of a few short weeks - Washington cites an end game that doesn't necessarily align with the perspectives of others.
"It's pretty much all about perspective. You have to see the end product and what is being built and not just look at what's there," Washington says. "You don't necessarily buy a house based on what they're doing on the first or second day of building. You buy it based on what it's going to become. I kind of just saw that."
A cog of head coach Patrick Chambers' Class of 2014 recruiting effort alongside Philly point guard Shep Garner, Washington very much intends to help construct a beautiful final product with the Nittany Lions.
Having earned a Pennsylvania First-Team All-State Class AAAA nod following his senior season, that of a 21.6 points per game average while leading the team in rebounds and assists, Washington's confidence in his own impact and the progress he envisions for the program doesn't appear to be misplaced. In fact, having witnessed Penn State's gradual development through Chambers' first three seasons with the Nittany Lions, Washington said the occasional detractors never had much of an impact on his decision to remain committed and eventually sign his national letter of intent last fall.
"Of course you're going to have people discourage you along the way or wonder why you're committed there or say some of the things they said, but it never really phased me because I feel in my mind that Coach Chambers is doing a great job," Washington said. "It takes time to build a program, especially in the Big Ten when you're competing against the best teams in the country night in and night out."
Even within the context of fans' expectations for Chambers and the program, Washington acknowledged that some of the negativity directed toward his future head coach - the man he'd long established a close relationship with since committing to Penn State at the end of his sophomore year - were bothersome. Wanting to make his own mark on the program while validating Chambers' own trust in him, Washington said there is no lack of motivation to perform.
"I didn't really enjoy it. Over two years, you get close to someone. To see someone you genuinely care about and have grown to know so much be battered like that, of course it's tough, but that's all part of the game," Washington says. "That kind of adds fuel to my fire, because if you look at me, I've been committed here for two years. People are looking at me as someone that he has really evaluated.
"That makes me want to perform so they can't say, 'Oh, this is what he's bringing in.'"
With that inspiration at his back - and the guidance of his parents through the entire recruiting process - the decision to stick with Chambers and the Nittany Lions is one Washington not only doesn't regret, but also is very much looking forward to bringing full circle.
"I just believe in making commitments and sticking to them. That's one of the things my parents have always taught me. When you make a commitment, you keep it," he said. "I never thought twice about it. A lot of people don't view things the way I do, I guess. They just look at what's happening right now.
"You can look at a lot of different programs that were not really there until a group of guys actually gave it a look and then they brought it to fruition."