Zack Rosen had just come out of the shower. The Quakers were playing at Yale in February, and he walked into the main area of the visiting locker room.
That’s when he first saw Denzel Washington.
“I was in shock,” Rosen recalled. “I started rattling off Remember the Titans lines. Me and Rob [Belcore], we’re roommates, we’ve watched that movie 14 times — at least.”
But now that his son, freshman Malcolm Washington, earned a spot on the varsity squad, Denzel will be a fixture around the basketball program.
Denzel was at the Palestra on Saturday, donning a black cap and watching as his son see his first significant minutes. Rosen had already fouled out, opening the overtime backcourt for Washington.
The diminutive guard’s first big assignment wasn’t easy, drawing dynamic Delaware guard Jawan Carter — who, when the final buzzer sounded, had dropped 35 points in the Blue Hens’ 97-94 double-overtime win.
“I thought he did a decent job the other night getting thrown in there in a critical situation, which may or may not have been fair to him,” coach Glen Miller said with a laugh.
Rosen, the sophomore captain, put his arms around Washington around halfcourt before the second overtime. It was a nice moment: Mentor helping protege and, perhaps, relishing the opportunity to tower over another varsity basketball player.
At a generous 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, Washington is the smallest man to suit up for the Quakers this decade.
“He’s pesky,” said the officially 6-foot-one Rosen, who matches up against Washington in practice. “He brings energy. And I think he knows that that’s his role — the energy guy, bringing a lot of spunk.
“On any basketball team, the little guy has to have everything else.”
Miller said that Washington will typically be sent out there for short stints to rest Rosen periodically.
“He’s low to the ground,” Miller said of Washington. “He’s very quick laterally. He has the chance to be a pest defensively, so in certain situations you want to utilize him.”
Washington has five points in 11 minutes this season, missing a decent, last-second look from three Saturday that could have forced a third overtime.
He also has the celebrity creds.
He tries not to dwell on that, though, instead highlighting a typical, tight-knit family (with two Academy Awards to boot).
“I get to go to cool places, do cool things,” he said. Those would include meeting the 2008 U.S. Olympic hoops squad, and being on the set of Training Day and Out of Time.
“But at the end of the day, I’m Malcolm Washington, not Denzel Jr.”
He’s seen most — but not all — of his father’s 47 movies, tabbing Training Day and Man on Fire as favorites.
(Miller calls himself a big Denzel fan — “He’s a great actor” — but declined to name any favorites since “he’s had so many good ones.”)
The whole Washington family has been known to discuss potential upcoming films over dinner, and when he’s not on a set, the 54-year-old Denzel tries to hit the hardwood with Malcolm. After all, before his acting career, he played college ball at Fordham.
“He’s slowed down a little bit with his age,” Malcolm said, “but he thinks he’s still good, so I guess that’s what counts.”
Contrary to published reports, he is not named after Malcolm X. That led to an argument with forward Andreas Schreiber, who refused to believe that an older cousin was the source of inspiration.
Washington, though, has otherwise made a great impression on his teammates. Rosen’s face split into a wide grin as he described Washington as “a great dude” with a “great attitude.
And while Hollywood might not be in his future, Washington apparently has vocal aspirations.
“I’m always singing in the shower in the locker room,” he said.
“He thinks he’s putting out a CD,” Rosen added. “I’m serious. I asked him if I could get on it. I actually did a presentation the other day, and I was Eminem and trying to impress him with my musical abilities.
“He’s not buying it. I’ll just keep at it.”
—Staff writer Joe Sanfilippo contributed reporting to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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