Kenny Washington of Beaufort has been named to the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame.
He was a two-time NCAA national basketball champion at UCLA, coming up big in the final games for the first two of Coach John Wooden’s 10 national titles in a span of 12 years.
Washington also represented the United States in the 1970 FIBA World Championship.
And he was the first head coach in UCLA women’s basketball history.
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He will be enshrined with the state’s highest athletic honor on May 14 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, according to a news release Monday from the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame.
Washington got his start shooting baskets on Greene Street. But in a couple of summers living with a sister Delo in Philadelphia, he played pickup games with Walt Hazzard of UCLA. Hazzard recommended the slender, 6-foot-3 player to the Bruins, and he was accepted sight-unseen.
Washington was a sixth-man who scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the final of the 1964 NCAA tournament and scored 17 in the 1965 championship while making the All-Final Four team.
After graduation, Washington was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors in the eighth round (71st pick overall) of the 1966 NBA Draft, but he never played in the league, according to the Hall of Fame news release.
Washington’s fast break from the segregated South also led to a degree in economics from UCLA, a law degree from Loyola, a career working with juveniles on parole in California, and a lifetime friendship with one of the most revered coaches in American history.
Wooden, as it turns out, was just like Washington’s real heroes: his late parents, U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Fred S. Washington Sr. and Sheldonia Haynes Washington of the Broomfield community on Lady’s Island; brother Fred S. Washington Jr., former chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Education and member of the Beaufort City Council; and five sisters — Delo, Fredrica, Roslyn, Alice and the late Louise, grandmother of Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward. All the Washington children earned college degrees.
“Coach Wooden and I were both small-town people and he had the same values my father did,” Washington said. “I don’t know if I could have made it otherwise.”
Highlighting the 2018 Hall of Fame class are two former basketball greats in Ray Allen of Hillcrest High in Dalzell and Casey Manning of Dillon and the University of South Carolina. Also being inducted are Clemson wrestler Sammie Henson, USC baseball player Drew Meyer, S.C. State athlete Sam Goodwin and marathon swimmer Kathleen Wilson.
Tickets for the May 14 banquet (table of eight for $600) and program sponsorships are available by calling the Hall of Fame office at 803-779-0905. The event, which includes a reception and dinner, begins at 5:30 p.m.