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Richard Washington

Richard Washington - Basketball

Richard Washington played his way from the streets of Portland into the basketball machine at UCLA and then into the NBA, where he remains the highest draft pick of a native Oregonian.

Born in 1955, Washington attended Benson High, where he played under coach Dick Gray. Washington grew to be a 6-foot-11 center and led the Techmen to the state title in 1971 and ’73, and fourth place in 1972 when rival Jefferson won the state title.

Washington was voted to the all-tournament first team all three seasons. In those three seasons, the Techmen were a combined 77-6.

 As one of the nation’s most recruited players, Washington chose to attend UCLA, which won its ninth title in the previous 10 years in ’73 with center Bill Walton earning the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award for the second straight year.

UCLA reached the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in Washington’s three seasons at the school, but lost in the semifinals in ’74 and ’76.

 In ’75, Washington led the Bruins to the NCAA title and earned the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. He was voted to the All-America First Team. After the title game, coach John Wooden retired having led the program to 10 titles in his final 12 years.

 Following the ’76 Tournament, Washington used the NBA Hardship Exception, which allowed him to be drafted with a year of college eligibility remaining. The Kansas City Kings selected him third overall and he averaged 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a rookie.

Washington averaged 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in his second year, but played just 18 game due to injury in his third season and was limited to being a role player for the following three seasons. He was a member of the Dallas Mavericks during their expansion season, 1980-81. He retired in 1982.

In six seasons in the NBA, Washington played in 351 games and averaged 9.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He played in 11 playoff games.

Washington, who returned to Portland and started a construction company, was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.