Former Vikings David Crisp, a senior guard for Washington and USC senior guard Shaqquan Aaron and Trojans freshman Kevin Porter Jr. are all excelling at different stages in Pac-12.

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Mike Bethea wasn’t missing this game.

The Rainier Beach High coach made sure to clear his schedule Wednesday night to grab a front-row seat at the Washington-USC game, which included three of his former players.

“I’m neutral for this one,” Bethea said laughing. “I really am. I don’t root. I just want all three players to have the best game they can possibly play.

“For me, I’m just so proud of all of them. And selfishly I’ll say, it’s another way to measure a program other than wins. When you see your guys go on and have success at the next level, that’s what you want.”

The former Vikings who played in Wednesday’s game at Alaska Airlines Arena included David Crisp, a UW senior guard, and USC senior guard Shaqquan Aaron and Trojans freshman Kevin Porter Jr.

All three took a different path to Wednesday’s game.

Crisp, who had been a wildly inconsistent shooter during the past 3½ years, is enjoying a red-hot shooting streak over the past seven games.

During the stretch, he’s made 21 of 40 shots behind the arc and is second in the Pac-12 with a 52.5 percent three-point field goal percentage in league games.

“He’s having the kind of year that we were really hoping he would have,” Bethea said. “He’s having a Beach flashback.

“His senior year, that’s how he shot the ball. He was one of the main reasons we were so effective. With the other athletes that he’s on the floor with, he can stretch the defense like crazy.”

Five years ago, Crisp teamed with Aaron on the 2013-14 Rainier Beach team that won the Class 3A state title and finished No. 2 in the nation at 28-1.

“We were just dominant,” Crisp said last year before Aaron’s first homecoming with the Trojans. “We were a lot bigger than everybody. … We were just running people. We really didn’t run any offense. A lot of times people couldn’t get the ball past half court. It was fun. Every game was fun.”

Aaron, who is averaging 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds, is enjoying his best season after two lackluster years at USC.

The 6-foot-7 forward was tabbed as a star when led Rainier Beach to back-to-back Class 3A state titles and was the 2014 state player of the year as a senior.

However, he played just one season at Louisville and never found consistent success at USC.

Last summer, Aaron considered turning pro or transferring before opting to return to the Trojans.

“He’s had a rough go of it,” Bethea said. “I’m just happy he’s having the success he’s having his senior year. He graduated this past summer and he was thinking, ‘Do I want to go here or there?’

“Ultimately, he told me he didn’t want to transfer anymore. And the NBA wasn’t a guarantee.”

In terms of Porter, Bethea believes the 6-6 guard will likely enter the NBA draft after the season.

“It’s really looking that way,” Bethea said. “That kid has as much talent as any kid I’ve ever been around. … And he’s grown. He was 6-4 or 6-5 when he was with me. Now he’s 6-6 and he’s developed his body.”

Porter’s freshman season has been short-circuited by a thigh bruise that forced him to miss nine games. He also sat out two games due to a team suspension.

Porter returned last week and finished with 14 points off the bench against Arizona. Two days later, he was scoreless in just 10 minutes versus Arizona State.

“Kevin is going through that typical freshman adjustment period now,” Bethea said. “Hopefully he’s back in a rhythm and able to give them a push going into the postseason.”


— UW freshman Bryan Penn-Johnson suited up for the first time since Dec. 9 when he suffered a lower leg injury.