New year, new face, new impact.
Over the past few months, Bryce Washington has brought new and significant contributions to Penn men’s basketball. The freshman guard has been named Ivy League Rookie of the Week four times in the past six weeks.
"He's one of the first guys on the court and is the last to leave," senior guard Jake Silpe said. "His work ethic is unmatched. I don't think he has a conscience on the court; he just plays his game."
The first of many came after performances against Monmouth and Princeton. Washington set personal highs in points with 17, three pointers with seven, and steals with three. Against the Tigers, he scored 11 points in Penn's Ancient Eight opener.
The next was a double-whammy, with Washington winning both Ivy League Rookie of the Week and Big 5 Player of the Week honors. Against Saint Joseph's, Washington earned his first career double-double, leading Penn in both scoring and rebounds with 23 points and 10 rebounds while also recording six three-pointers and four assists. These stats were all career highs for Washington, and his performance was crucial in Penn’s 78-70 win to clinch the outright Big 5 title.
"It's a lot easier to win when you have shooting on the court," Washington said. "I give the team some space on the perimeter, knock down shots, and play defense."
Washington’s third Ivy League Rookie of the Week award came after Penn’s road trip to Cornell and Columbia. With four three-pointers and five rebounds, Washington was able to score 15 points against Cornell. Against Columbia, the freshman contributed eight points and five rebounds to Penn’s winning effort.
The most recent award came as a result of Washington’s performances at Brown and Yale. He made 4-of-5 three-point shots, 6-of-7 free throws, and had one other field goal for a total of 20 points in a 92-82 win over the Bears. In the 78-65 loss to Yale, Washington recorded six rebounds, his highest total of the Ivy League season.
Washington has played in all 24 games for the Quakers, starting in 21. He has a .428 field-goal percentage along with a .417 three-point average. Out of the five players who have played in every game of the season for the Red and Blue, Washington has the highest free-throw percentage with .818.
“He’s someone who really works at it. He’s a confident kid, he’s got good athletic ability, he’s put his mind to it," coach Steve Donahue said. "He works on his game every day.
“I think Bryce’s ceiling is really high, so he has a long way to go."
While he works hard on improving his own game, Washington isn’t focused on personal accolades. Rather, he’s more concerned about the success of his team and honoring the seniors who have helped him to get to perform at such a high level already.
“All I’m focused on is keep getting better, keep helping this team win,” Washington said. “We still have the best team in the Ivy League although our record doesn’t show it. I just want to continue to grow with this team, continue to reach our potential and I think we’ll figure it out.”
“I just want to put in my heart to these next few games so that I can help [the seniors] leave with the Ivy League title.”
Although there are only three weeks left in the regular season, Washington hopes to continue to play with the success he has had in the past couple months. A heavy contributor to the Red and Blue on both sides of the court, the freshman will do his best to help the team take crucial victories over the rest of their Ivy competition.
Washington and the Quakers will take on Columbia and Cornell at the Palestra this weekend.
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