Former Garfield assistant Walter Washington takes over at coach for Brandon Roy, who left to coach his alma mater, Garfield. Not many of the players who helped the Raiders to national prominence return for this season.
Washington is a Garfield alum who was an assistant on former Bulldogs coach Ed Haskins’ 2015 state-title teams. After taking a year off to care for his family, Washington was hired in August to replace Brandon Roy.
Roy guided the Raiders through a whirlwind 29-0 season that was capped with the 2017 Class 3A state title. The star was Michael Porter Jr., a 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American who averaged 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
“Whenever I talk to people who worked the games or alumni, it was a fun year,” said Hale athletic director Darby Haskins, who is also an alum. “There were a lot of great things that we saw and got a chance to experience. I think positively about last year.”
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Porter relocated to Seattle from Missouri with his father Michael Porter Sr., a former University of Washington men’s basketball assistant coach. The 2016 move also brought siblings in four-star recruit Jontay, a junior forward, and freshman point guard Coban Porter. The lure of playing with the nation’s top recruit and for a former NBA All-Star brought in other players to transform a Hale program that finished the 2015-16 season at 3-18.
Then the Porters left after Michael Sr. accepted a coaching position at Missouri in March. Then Roy left, named head coach at Garfield in May to replace Haskins, who became an assistant at Washington State. Roy starred for the Bulldogs from 1998-2002.
“I totally understand him going back to Garfield,” Haskins said. “It’s nice to go back to your alma mater. So, I look forward to Walter now building the program and believe we’re in a good spot.”
But Roy’s departure caused more changes. Hale’s expected top returning players in four-star recruit P.J. Fuller and sophomore guard MarJon Beauchamp also left.
Beauchamp transferred to Garfield. Fuller transferred to Mater Dei in Southern California, but reportedly moved back to Seattle due to a personal matter.
“You feel bad,” Roy said. “Part of that is why I didn’t hype the Garfield situation. I didn’t want it to be, ‘Yeah, I’m going home and Nathan Hale is done.’ People can be mean, saying Nathan Hale is back in the dumps. I want to avoid anybody trying to step on them. They have really good people out there. Great teachers and the students were great.”
Washington had 63 students try out for the team this year. Freddy Brown III, a senior guard, is the only returnee who logged any minutes last season. Senior guards Quusaa Margarsa, Dempsey Hope and Khepra Mims were deep reserves.
Hale opens its season Tuesday at Puyallup. The game against Garfield is Jan. 16 at Nathan Hale.
“It’s been a fun process,” Washington said. “Ed Haskins definitely prepared me for this moment. We’re going to get after it.”