A Texas three-step in basketball

RENO - What do Nevada assistant coach Josh Newman, Nevada forward Jermaine Washington and Louisiana Tech point guard Daevon Haskins have in common?

If you guessed that they all have ties to South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, then you get an "A" for your basketball knowledge.

The trio will have a reunion of sorts when Nevada visits Louisiana Tech Thursday at 4:30 p.m. (ESPN Radio 630 AM) in a Western Athletic Conference basketball game.

Washington and Haskins helped South Plains to the 2002-03 Western Junior College Athletic Conference title and a trip to the national junior college tournament. Washington also played for South Plains in the 2001-02 season, helping the team to a conference title and a trip to the national tourney. Newman was an assistant coach from 2001-2003.

And, since both Haskins and Washington see considerable playing time, they are liable to bump into one another, literally, on the floor. The duo are close friends and say they are looking forward to seeing each other.

"We are close friends," said Washington, who hails from South Carolina. "He's a good player; a good point guard."

"We talked during the summer, and we've talked a little bit (since school started)," Haskins said. "We're good buddies I can say that. He's a great offensive rebounder. He's got long arms and was energized."

Newman said it's not surprising that Haskins and Washington were close. The town that South Plains only had around 15,000 residents.

"In JC, kids become close," Newman said. "They are there for the same reason. They spend a lot of their time together."

In fact, the two friends were almost teammates again this year. Nevada coach Mark Fox said that he tried to recruit the 6-3 Haskins last spring because Nevada was in dire need of a point guard.

"It was too far," said Haskins, who went to high school in Baltimore. "My parents didn't want me to go that far away. I'm very happy with my decision; very happy with where I'm at.

"They (Nevada coaches) were debating about players. I didn't know how long it would take. I thought all the offers might be gone, so I took the first (firm) one."

And, Haskins has made Louisiana Teach a better team. His ability to play the point enabled Louisiana coach Keith Richard to move Donell Allick to off guard, and Allick is averaging 10.3 points per game. Haskins is scoring 6.4 per game and dishing out 5.6 assists per contest.

Newman said he hasn't spoken to his former player, but he gets glowing reports from the Tech coaching staff.

"Daevon is a good leader on the floor," Newman said. "He's a true point guard. He's extremely long and fast. He will make a team better.

"He loved to play. That's so important with kids today. Kids that have passion you like being around as a coach. That's what's enjoyable when guys like to play."

This is Newman's fourth year with Washington, and he's seen tremendous improvement in the high-jumping forward since Washington started junior college.

"When he was at JC, he was a straight four man (power forward)," Newman said. "He's now become more of a perimeter player. He now faces the basket and puts the ball on the floor better. He's developed nicely into a very good player.

"He's grown in so many ways - academically, socially and athletically. It's been an honor to be around him. I'll miss him when he leaves."

Washington has had an up and down season. He started the first several games at small forward, but Fox has used him off the bench four of the last five games. His numbers are solid - 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. His 23 offensive rebounds is second on the team to Kevinn Pinkney.

Newman hasn't seen Haskins since he coached him two years ago, and no doubt he'll be beaming with pride when his two former students collide tomorrow.

"Every kid I've ever coached, I've followed," Newman said. "As long as they continue to play, I'll follow them."

And no doubt be proud of their accomplishments.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.

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