The McClintock Chargers have one of the best backcourts in the state in Malique Washington and Amiri Chukwuemeka.
The scary thing about this pair: they’re just heading into their sophomore seasons together.
Even though he feels like people are discounting his skills, Washington isn’t discounting what he and Chukwuemeka can do on a basketball court, even on a national level.
“Me and Amiri are unstoppable. Nobody can stop us in this state or the country,” Washington said. “We’re the best two point guards in this state, so everybody needs to know that.”
To be as good as Washington believes they are – they are VERY good together, seeing them up close and personal – it comes down to a few simple things.
“We just work hard, make plays, lead the team [and] have fun too,” Washington said.
Their freshman season together wasn’t the best situation for them. The team was 6-20 – clearly not what anyone expected out of the team.
“At first, we used to go at it all the time, we didn’t like each other at first,” Washington said.
But over time, Washington and Chukwuemeka got to know each other and got the feel for one another on the court, and things started to jell for them.
“Now, we’re like friends, just like family,” Washington said.
Chukwuemeka recalls some knock-down, drag-outs he and Washington had in the early going before they began to develop chemistry amongst each other.
“We’ve gotten bloody noses, elbows, almost into fights, just going at it in practice trying to get each other better,” Chukwuemeka said. “Because we know if we push each other, it’s only going to make us look better.”
Washington likes to score the ball. Chukwuemeka likes to play defense. Even though they prefer different ends of the court, when you watch them play, they’re essentially the same player in two different bodies, just with certain differences in their style of play.
Having that luxury of being interchangeable is perhaps the most intriguing part of these young men.
“It just makes it easy for us, because I can go to the 2, let him penetrate and I can knock down the jumper or vice versa,” Chukwuemeka said. “I can get him the ball, he can penetrate or whatever.”
“It just makes it easier for me as a guard,” Chukwuemeka said. “Instead of having to go one-on-one, I always have someone I can give the ball to.”
“You gotta pick your poison,” Chukwuemeka said. “If you help on him, there’s a kick to me and I’m right there for the kick.”
“It just gives us a break on the ball,” Washington said. “Usually the defense likes to play us hard and trap us. If he’s there I can pass the ball to him.”
Having a guy like Chukwuemeka constantly in his shirt, pushing him to be the best, has made Washington realize things about his game that he needs to work on in order to be as complete a player he can.
He’s realized those things, plus his doubters have also sparked a fire in his belly too.
“People don’t take me that serious,” Washington said. “In my mind, I think I’m the best point guard in the state and people say I’m not, and that just makes me mad and it makes me go harder to prove them wrong.”
One thing his detractors can’t take away from him is what lies in his future, which is more basketball. Washington has already gotten letters from NAU and Portland State.
What a coincidence. Since we’re talking about twins basically on the court, it only makes sense that the same two schools contacted Chukwuemeka as well, along with a few more schools.
Washington told me that his shot isn’t where he wants it to be, which is primarily the reason why the naysayers are coming out of the woodwork against him.
Having a bulldog like Chukwuemeka on his side, he says, has really helped him develop his shot over time.
“Without him in practices, I don’t know if they’ll be as fun, they’ll be just too boring,” Washington said. “Him there, he just pushes me and he makes me go harder.”
“I’m happy he’s my teammate.”
Going through the ups and downs of a 6-20 season was definitely a “learning experience” for Chukwuemeka. He continues to stay in the gym getting his training in and playing with Washington and his teammates over the summer to build even more chemistry.
“We have a good offense, Coach [Samuel] Dentz put in a good offense for us this summer,” Chukwuemeka said. “We just run our plays and we try to get each other involved with the penetrate-and-kick and get our big men involved with the tip-ins and stuff like that.”
Washington and Chukwuemeka have infinite confidence in each other as sophomores. Imagine what’ll happen should they stay together at McClintock for their entire careers.
“When we get older, when we get to our upperclass stage, it’ll be pretty hard to stop us,” Chukwuemeka said.