Four-star, class of 2023, guard George Washington III earned an offer from Rick Barnes and Tennessee last weekend while unofficially visiting Tennessee for the first time.
“I absolutely loved the campus,” Washington told Rocky Top Insider. “It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful. On the river. The facilities are amazing.”
Washington ranks as the nation’s 42nd best player and the third best player in the state of Kentucky for the 2023 class according to the 247sports composite rankings
Despite his high ranking and consistent contact with assistant coach Rod Clark— who Washington said he texts every other day and talks to once a week— the 6-foot-2, 165 pound combo guard came to Tennessee’s campus without holding an offer.
Washington didn’t have to wait for that offer long once he arrived on campus, however, as Clark broke the news to him before Tennessee football’s matchup with Pitt.
“I kind of went on the visit knowing it was a possibility,” Washington said of receiving a Tennessee offer. “The way he (Rod Clark) did it was really slick. It was me and a kid Airius (Bailey) sitting there, eating and coach was eating with us at the tailgate and he just sat down and was talking, talking to us about the program and he goes, ‘you guys know you’re getting an offer from the University of Tennessee today, right?’ And just kind of kept eating and glossed over it. It took a second to process it and then we were both like, ‘thank you coach, thank you coach.’ It kind of sunk in.”
Washington was able to see the Vols’ campus, basketball facilities and spend time with current players and coaches during his visit. That included chatting with Victor Bailey Jr. about Austin, Bailey’s hometown and where Washington lived for eight years. In fact, Washington’s older sister played basketball at Bailey’s high school’s rival.
What stood out most though, was the experience and personality of the coaching staff.
“I love the coaching staff there,” Washington said. “They all know what they’re doing. They’re really experienced guys. They have a lot of special coaches that know what they’re doing and know the game. I love what coach Barnes is able and has been able to do with point guards. I think that’s something really special.”
Washington knows what Barnes can do with point guards first hand. The four-star dad, George Washington Jr, was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Texas from 2012-20. Washington kind of knew Barnes from the three-year overlap in which Washington Jr. and Barnes were at Texas.
What really caught Washington’s attention is what former Texas point guard T.J. Ford has told the point guard about Barnes.
“I know a lot about him because my dad coached at Texas at the same time he was there. For about three years,” Washington said. “My dad was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Texas for eight years. He overlapped with Barnes for three of those years. I kind of knew him from there from being up at the gym at Texas shooting and I also worked with T.J. Ford and knew T.J. Ford when I was in Austin. Coach T.J. always had a lot to say about him and talked very highly of him.”
Ford was one of the first great point guards Barnes coached, averaging 12.9 points and eight assists per game in his two seasons at Texas before playing eight seasons in the NBA.
However, Barnes’ message to Washington wasn’t about Ford or basketball at all. The seventh year head coach was more interested in getting to know the four-star recruit.
“The craziest thing is coach Barnes doesn’t talk too much about basketball,” Washington said. “It was mostly, when I was talking to him, introducing ourselves and I really don’t think a word was said about basketball. Which is great. He’s a great guy.”
The Louisville resident’s unofficial visit to Knoxville was his second of the fall. The top-50 recruit went to Cincinnati the first weekend of September, will be at Louisville this weekend and has visits set up to Ohio State, Liberty and Memphis for the rest of the fall.
The lanky guard currently holds offers from Tennessee, Louisville, Ohio State, Liberty and Auburn. Washington is taking his time with his recruitment and is confident that he’ll find the best spot for himself.
“Right now, I think all the schools that have offered me are really great programs,” Washington said. “I’m starting to form really good relationships with the coaches and coaching staffs. I think when the time comes to make a decision, I’ll know. Right now I’m just really focused on getting to know the programs just to see where I’ll fit in with them. As far as a timetable, I think when it’s time and I find the right school and know it’s the right school I’ll commit.”