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TyTy Washington ready to bring winning spirit, confidence to Rockets


HOUSTON — Former University of Kentucky guard, TyTy Washington, sat on stage Friday with his new Rockets teammates, Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason. Washington was already quite familiar with those players from their time competing against each other a few months ago in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and it was easy to see and hear a humble young man ready to show NBA fans just what he can do.

Proving himself is something the young 20-year-old has had to do at every level during his young basketball career, especially to those who doubt his skill set and what he brings to the court.

“He’s comfortable in his own skin,” said John Calipari, his former college coach at Kentucky, during an interview last season. “Great smile every day, comes to play. Competitive now, he’s got a little chip on his shoulder. You come at him; he’s coming back at you.”

Washington was selected with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. The Phoenix, Arizona native feels he should have been selected higher but believes it was a loss for all the teams that passed on him.

“I mean, every player wants to be a top pick, high pick, and stuff like that,” Washington said after Thursday’s draft. “As I was falling, I wasn’t really stressing about it. It only takes one team to believe in you, and you can go out there and shock the world. That’s kind of my mindset on it. I always bet on myself, so I’m just going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder and remember all the teams that skipped me.”

That attitude and his on-court play impressed Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, who has known Washington since he was a young kid.

“I saw TyTy play for the first time when he was 11-years-old,” Stone said during Friday’s introductory press conference. “It feels like it is destined for him to be here. TyTy is a good basketball player. He is literally good at this game. At every level I have seen him on, he was one of the better players because he figures it out and he is really good at this game.”

Washington, a 6-foot-3 guard who was named SEC Freshman of the Week five times at Kentucky, averaged 12.5 points and 3.9 assists last season. That was good enough to earn him second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors and a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team.

Behind starter Kevin Porter Jr., it will be a fierce battle for the backup point guard position between Washington and second-year guard Daishen Nix, who led Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Vipers, to a championship this past season. That does not make Washington fear the challenge, because he is confident in his game.

“One thing I bring to the table, no matter where I’m at, is my winning spirit,” Washington said at Toyota Center, his new NBA home. “I always want to win. Whether that’s me scoring 30 points, zero points, as long as I’m out there on the court helping our team win, that’s all I care about.”


Houston trades back from No. 26 to No. 29, drafts TyTy Washington Jr.

Jabari Smith happy to be where he’s wanted in Houston


Rockets welcome Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, TyTy Washington to Houston


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