There are 21 columns on a typical college basketball stat sheet. Points, rebounds, shooting percentage, etc.
There’s no stat that measures enthusiasm, but if there were, NC State transfer Kyle Washington would be among the national leaders.
“You can’t really put a number on it, but the sprit and the passion and the fun that he has playing basketball is tremendous,” said Mick Cronin.
The Bearcats’ head coach says Washington’s zeal has had a huge impact on this year’s team since returning core players like Troy Caupain, Gary Clark, Kevin Johnson and Jacob Evans have even-keeled personalities.
“Kyle was just what they needed,” said Cronin. “He was an injection of talent, confidence, and energy every day. He’s beaten Duke, he’s beaten (North) Carolina, he’s had big games, he’s been to the Sweet 16. If I let him, he’d pull a Terry Nelson and predict that we’re going to win it all. But you’ve got to have a little of that. You’ve got to have some bravado.”
“I stay positive and always try to look at the glass as half-full,” said Washington. “Every time that somebody says that something isn’t possible, there’s always a way to get it done. That’s my mentality.”
And then there are his contributions on the court.
Washington earned Second Team All-Conference honors this season after averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. He’s 5th in the AAC in field goal percentage, 7th in blocked shots, and 10th in rebounding.
“The thing I love the most is that he can get you a basket when you really need a basket,” said Cronin. “In our comeback at Tulsa, he had two tough buckets in traffic and you’ve got to have answers when you’re in tough situations. You can go to him and get a basket.”
But even when his shots aren’t going in, Washington is giving his teammates a shot in the arm.
“He’s that big brother,” said Gary Clark. “He’s pulled that verbal side out of me to talk to guys at practice and off the court. His positive attitude has really pulled another side out of the Bearcats.”
“He is such a positive person that it’s almost like there can be no divisiveness with him around,” said Cronin. “He’s going to bring everybody together. It’s interesting because sometimes a guy like that is just a role player. This guy’s a scorer. But you can’t get mad at him for some of the shots that he takes because he’s such a good guy and the guys all love him so much.”
“I try to be there for my teammates,” said Washington. “If somebody needs a vocal guy to say, ‘Let’s get the energy up,’ I’ll do that. But I don’t want to say that I’m always doing that because sometimes I need it and a teammate will do it for me. That’s the beauty of this team.”
Coach Cronin says that Washington’s winning attitude comes from his parents Curtis and Tami.
“He’s just got tremendous character as a person, and if you could meet his parents you would understand why,” Mick said. “His parents are unbelievably great, great people and he’s really lucky.”
“I think my mom could have a movie one day,” Kyle told me. “She’s an amazing person. If you met her you would think she was raised in the most affluent area in the world and she wasn’t. The way she turned out as a person is beautiful. She’s a tenured teacher now and she’s on her way to get her doctorate. And my dad has always taught me to be competitive and always look at life with a glass half-full attitude. So I got it from both of them.”
In retrospect, maybe there is a stat that measures the impact of a team leader’s positive energy.
It’s called win total.
“I literally believe that that stuff is worth wins,” said Cronin.
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