Head West! Washburn to play hoops at Maryville

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - Head west young man!

Bullitt East senior basketball standout Corey Washburn can use that often used quote now for his future as he is heading to St. Louis to play basketball at Maryville University, an NCAA Division II program that plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, the same as national champion Bellarmine.

Maryville just completed its second season as a Division II program, going from three wins to seven victories under first-year head coach Kevin Carroll.

The Saints first made contact with Washburn before the start of his senior season. They had seen him play on the summer AAU circuit with his team the Basketball Academy Hoyas. That team included four players who have signed with Division I schools.

While some bigger schools had some contact with Washburn at various times over the past year, the final decision came down to Maryville and Drury University, another Division II program.

“I visited there and just fell in love,” Washburn said. “I love the coaches there. I felt at home with the players in the program.”

Washburn, the 18-year old son of Ron and Terry Washburn, made the final decision about three weeks ago, but he didn’t sign the papers until Wednesday night following Bullitt East’s boys’ basketball banquet.

“I made that trip over there about three weeks ago,” the senior said. “I spent the night and had dinner and played some open gym. I felt good about it.”

The attention really didn’t pick up in the recruiting process even after Washburn had a strong showing in the Kentucky State Boys’ Basketball Tournament.

“It was stressful at times,” Washburn admitted of waiting for different schools to make their plans known. “I didn’t know where I was going. At times I felt I should have more offers, but I’m happy with the way it worked out.”

Washburn bloomed late in basketball. He played behind senior Willie Moore as a sophomore and then became a starter last season. At the end of that season, he sat down with Charger head coach Troy Barr and was told that to make the next step that he would need to get in better condition.

Last spring Washburn set his mind to that, losing 30 pounds and gaining quickness and flexibility. That led into the strong AAU play last summer and then an impressive senior season at Bullitt East that saw him voted the fourth best play in the Sixth Region and earning him a try-out two weeks ago with the Kentucky All-Stars.

Washburn turned himself into a college level basketball player through hard work and he was a key reason Bullitt East reached the semi-finals of the state tournament.

“He really has been a big part of our program the last two years,” Barr said after the signing. “We’ve won 52 games and he was as big a part of that as anyone.

“Honestly, Corey was two different players,” Barr said of the lost weight. “He transformed his game. Instead of a 6-6, 255-pound guy who would play with his back to the basket, he became a 6-6, 225-pound guy who could face the basket and shoot the ball.”

As a senior, Washburn averaged 14.4 points a game and pulled down 5.7 rebounds as he started all 36 games for the Chargers this season. He shot 53 percent from the field and 70 percent at the free throw line.

“They came and watched the LIT,” Barr said of the mid-January tournament. “They talked to me and Corey and then stayed in contact after that. It was a no-brainer for them.”

Washburn, who is the youngest of five children, would like to major in sports medicine.

He was in the Charger program for five years and was part of the varsity team for three seasons. He did not play any other sports at Bullitt East, but for several years has worked as a referee in the Greater Bullitt County Youth Football League.

“They are going to try me at the four or five,” Washburn said. “I’ll be able to go out and shoot some threes. I’d rather play out on the floor as a four.”