By CHRISTOPHER DABE // Written for the LSWA
Solomon Washington met Carver basketball coach Nate Roche for the first time in the summer before Washington started high school, and Roche told Washington he could someday be the best player in the state.
Nearly four years later, the 6-foot-7 Washington has been selected by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association as its Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance/Mr. Basketball for the 2021-22 season.
“As a freshman I knew he was going to be able to affect the game in so many ways,” Roche said. “Watching him grow and mature, I knew it was bigger than scoring for him. I knew he was going to be an impactful player on both ends of the court.”
Washington, a Texas A&M signee, capped his final high school season in March by helping lead Carver to a Class 4A LHSAA championship, defeating McMain 66-31. In the state final, Washington scored 12 points with 20 rebounds, nine assists, six blocked shots and four steals.
Washington completed his senior season averaging 14.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, three assists, 2.4 steals and 2.6 blocks. In 38 games, he posted 23 double-doubles.
Known for his crowd-pleasing dunks and blocked shots that sometimes got knocked into the bleachers, Washington was a unanimous first-team District 11-4A selection and selected as the district player of the year.
His ability to defend on the perimeter led to several quick baskets in transition.
“To me, that the most important part of the game,” Washington said. “Our defense creates offense.”
Washington learned early in high school that his team could perform better when he let other players score more points. He could average 20 points per game and win games. But when he put a focus on defense and passing, Carver turned close games into blowouts.
The Rams experienced plenty of success with Washington. They reached the LHSAA tournament three times, finishing as semifinalists when he was a sophomore and as a runner-up when he was a junior.
It was that runner-up finish that fueled Carver to a championship this season.
“We were hungry from losing the state championship in the last second,” Washington said. “The amount of work we put in the offseason; I knew we were going to win state.”
Washington and his teammates ran five miles multiple times a week. They worked hard in the weight room.
“I knew our team was ready for the season,” Washington said.
Carver posted a 29-2 record against in-state opponents. The Rams finished the season strong by defeating their final three opponents by wide margins: 29 points in a quarterfinal against L.B. Landry, 49 points in a semifinal against Huntington and 35 points in the title game against McMain.
Washington was not the only Carver player recognized by the LSWA this season. Senior Dorian Finister was a second-team all-state selection and senior Willie Anderson received honorable mention.
But Washington brought a little something extra to his team.
“It’s very rare that you coach a player with his talent, skill level and maturity, and he’s a sponge,” Roche said. “Some guys with his talent think they know it all. I don’t think Solomon has reached that point.”
La. Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Mr. Basketball winners
1996: Lester Earl, Glen Oaks
1997: Marcus Fizer, Arcadia
1998: Stromile Swift, Fair Park
1999: Bernard King, Gibsland Coleman
2000: Chris Duhon, Salmen
2001: Donald Perry, McCall
2002: Darrel Mitchell Jr., St. Martinville
2003: Paul Millsap, Grambling
2004: Glen Davis, University
2005: Tasmin Mitchell, Denham Springs
2006: Demond Carter, Reserve Christian
2007: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2008: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2009: Joevoskie Mitchell, Zwolle
2010: Markel Brown, Peabody
2011: Ricardo Gathers, Riverside
2012: Dee Wagner, Peabody
2013: Jarell Martin, Madison Prep
2014: Reginal Johnson Jr., Richwood
2015: Brandon Sampson, Madison Prep
2016: Javonte Smart, Scotlandville
2017: Javonte Smart, Scotlandville
2018: Javonte Smart, Scotlandville
2019: Jalen Cook, Walker
2020: Reece Beekman, Scotlandville
2021: Carlos Stewart, The Dunham School
2022: Solomon Washington, Carver