ST. FRANCISVILLE-Britney Washington takes a few seconds to wipe the sweat from her brow.
Then she’s ready to go again. And again.
First, a rapid-fire shooting drill that requires the West Feliciana High senior-to-be to make shots from one baseline to the other.
Washington also does dribbling drills, navigating through chairs and cones under the watchful eye of her uncle, Timothy Washington.
The drills are a basketball standard, Washington is not. She wants to elevate her game to a level that will impress college scouts.
This pursuit has nothing to do with hang time. The 5-foot-9 Washington hangs out in the West Feliciana Middle School gym. She’s there most mornings and each Sunday after church.
When she’s not in the gym with her uncle or playing for a Baton Rouge-based AAU team, Washington gets in outdoor pick up games with cousins.
“I guess I was three when I started playing basketball,” Washington said. “I played in the yard with my cousins and then played Biddy basketball. The other sports are fun ? I love basketball.”
During her first two prep seasons, Washington was considered to be a top up-and-coming player. As a junior, she was one of the Baton Rouge area’s top players, earning Class 3A All-State and All-Metro honors. Washington averaged 30.2 points and 12 rebounds per game, while leading the Saints to the playoffs.
The scoring average was the highest by a local girl since current WNBA and former LSU star Seimone Augustus ruled the court for Capitol High a decade ago.
“She’s always been talented,” Timothy Washington said of his niece. “There are still things she needs to work on to get better, and she knows that. She loves it (basketball) so much and she’s focused.”
Focus is imperative. Washington wants to prove she is a top basketball player and not just another athlete who plays the sport well.
It is important to point out that Washington has no plans to abandon the other sports she plays better than most.
She was an All-Metro selection in volleyball last fall, compiling 287 kills, 62 blocks, 46 digs and 41 aces. Last spring, Washington helped the Saints win the Class 3A title in track by finishing third in the pole vault with a best of 10 feet, 6 inches, again netting All-Metro honors.
Those feats, combined with her basketball prowess, made Washington the lone underclassman among the finalists for The Advocate’s Girls Athlete of the Year in 2010-11.
“I started doing track in the sixth grade and I like it,” Washington said. “I want to go 11 feet or higher my senior year. I didn’t start playing volleyball until I was in middle school. I like being around the other girls on the team and doing what I can to help us win.”
Washington is also a winner in the classroom. She carries a 3.5 GPA and has already met all the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards.
And yes, there’s even more to Washington. She plays the piano and is the trumpet section leader in the WFHS band. She sings in the church choir.
WFHS coach Rod Lemoine said there was an obvious reason for Washington’s emergence as a star last season.
“Maturity ? Britney matured so much as a player and a leader,” Lemoine said. “She came in with the mentality that she was going to do whatever it took out there to help us win.
“She was able to take advantage of the talent and hard work she put in to make that happen. And she continues to work. As a shooter from 15 feet in, she’s as good as anybody I’ve seen. But she knows she needs to improve her ballhandling and play lock-down defense for 32 minutes.”
Louisiana Lady Mystics coach Ken Johnson has also watched Washington develop as a basketball player. Later this month, she’ll help lead the Mystics to the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla.
“I’ve coached Britney since she was in the eighth grade, and she’s always been such a student of the game,” Johnson said. “She can score the ball. As good as she is as a shooter, I think she’s at her best when she shares the ball and gets her teammates involved.
“Britney knows how to attack the rim, which is why she’s a good rebounder. Her game continues to improve. A lot of girls her age don’t get a lot better.”
Washington has caught the eye of several colleges and has offers from McNeese State and Tulane. Her dream is to play at an Southeastern Conference- caliber school, particularly one SEC school^=LSU.
“I always went to LSU games when I was younger, and I’ve gone to their camp,” Washington said. “Seimone Augustus is one of the best players ever, I think. I grew up watching her, and never thought I’d get mentioned in the same sentence with her.
“Right now, I don’t plan to sign early. I want to play my senior year and see what happens.”
Washington remembers attracting the attention of then-LSU coach Pokey Chatman at an LSU camp as a middle-schooler. Last month, she had a d?j? vu moment with new Lady Tiger coach Nikki Caldwell.
“We finished scrimmaging, and she (Caldwell) came up and asked me my name and what school I was from,” Washington said. “It made me feel good.”