SIU forward confuses opponents with dynamic play

SIU forward confuses opponents with dynamic play

By Brent Meske

The Salukis have a forward who excels in both rebounding and 3-point shooting, which is uncommon for a post player.

Junior forward Azia Washington has been a consistent rebounder for the Salukis in her career, but has also developed the ability to shoot 3-pointers this season.

Washington was No. 2 in rebounds to junior forward/center Dyana Pierre her freshman and sophomore years, averaging 5.2 and 6.8 rebounds a game respectively. This season she is averaging 5.7 through six games.


“Rebounding is something that is always going to be there, and I’m a post player, so that’s what the team needs from me,” Washington said. “It’s something I always continue to focus on getting better at.”

Although she said she is happy with her defensive play, Washington considers herself more of an offensive player.

Washington averaged 7.7 points a game in her first two years and is averaging 9 points a game this season.

Washington has developed he skill behind the arc. She was 2-12 her first two seasons, and is shooting 7-12 this season.

Coach Cindy Stein said she puts emphasis on Washington having a good shot selection before she puts emphasis on shooting threes.

“She’s a smart player and for the most part, she takes really good shots,” she said. “She feels a lot more comfortable shooting the three this year, and that stretches us out and makes us a better team.”

Washington said she developed into a 3-point shooter this year because of more practice. She was only a post player in high school and never dribbled much or played on the outside.


She said her confidence is the key to her success this season.

“If they give me space, even a little bit of space, I’m going to shoot it,” she said. “If I can’t get the post work, I’m going to go outside and shoot it.”

Stein said Washington’s ability to be a strong post player and shooter makes her difficult to guard.

Washington proved this in the Nov. 26 win against Memphis. She shot 4-6 from beyond the arc and said it confused the defense.

“They had no idea I was going to come out there and shoot the three,” she said. “Then in the next game people were saying, ‘Hey, she’s a shooter,’ so I’m not a surprise anymore.”

Freshman guard Kylie Giebelhausen said she enjoys having a forward who can step out and shoot the three.

Giebelhausen said Washington is often given more space to shoot.

“You are taught in high school that post players won’t shoot the three,” she said. “It’s really a threat for Azia because she has good form and other post players give her that space.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @brentmeskeDE.