Washington earns promotion to Lawrence Central head coach


Phil Washington’s first mission as the new Lawrence Central High School boys basketball coach will be to strengthen the feeder system.

“We wanted to build it up,” said Washington, whose hiring was approved April 24 by the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township’s school board. “We want to form a strong umbrella around everything we touch from elementary school to middle school. We want to build some strong basketball camps and a network of coaches where we can all interact with each other. We want to make sure everyone is connected. That’s the goal.”

Phil Washington

Washington, 39, had been an associate head coach under Al Gooden for the last three seasons.

“We have young talent coming back and talent coming in from Belzer Middle School,” Washington said. “We have some guys coming in that are going to end up playing immediately (on varsity). If you are good enough play your freshman year, you got to play. It’s all about getting them conditioned and getting them stronger to play a strong conference and schedule like we do have.”

The Bears return one full-time starter in Bryson Luter and one part-time starter Nizyi Davis from last season’s 15-8 squad.,

Washington was coach of Indianapolis Attucks High School boys basketball team from 2012-16, winning City Coach of the Year honors after leading Attucks to a 19-6 record and a sectional title in 2014-15. He previously had spent one year as Arlington High School girls basketball coach.

He then coached the Indianapolis Blaze of the Continental Basketball Association from 2016-19. Washington is now coaching in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

Washington said he was surprised by Gooden’s decision.

“I knew he wanted to coach with three generations on the bench,” Washington said.

Gooden’s son, Al Gooden Jr., was an assistant coach, and his grandson, Al Gooden III, was a freshman last season.

“He won a state title (at Fort Wayne Harding) when I was a senior in high school,” Washington said of Gooden. “He’s definitely one of the greats,”

Washington, a former Anderson Highland High School basketball player, was a practice player at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. He started as a student assistant coach for Southern men’s and women’s teams.