Boys’ basketball: At 5-9, Ashe plays big for Friendship Collegiate

January 26, 2012

At first glance, Friendship Collegiate’s slender guard Byron Ashe doesn’t look like the prolific scorer who is averaging over 21 points per game. The baby-faced junior is listed generously at 5 feet 9, and the bottom of his jersey number is nearly cut off by his shorts.

But Ashe wears a size 12 shoe. His long arms hang close to his knees. So there’s hope and potential for much growth. (“He should get to 6-foot,” Knights Coach James Pope said.) And on Wednesday night in Northeast Washington, Ashe showcased his ability, scoring 21 points to power Friendship Collegiate past host Cesar Chavez, 60-56.

Ashe used his long arms to nab four steals and his quick feet and light frame to speed to the basket. (And, he can dunk, too.) Asked how this was all possible despite his smaller stature, Ashe shook his head and laughed: “I don’t know.”

Against a feisty Cesar Chavez (13-11), Ashe’s early success came at attacking the basket. Friendship Collegiate (16-8), which competes in the Washington Charter School Athletic Association, and Cesar Chavez, which a few years ago competed in the same league but now plays as an independent, played each other tough. No team was ahead by more than seven points, and Friendship Collegiate led, 28-26, after two quarters.

At times, Ashe’s play-making ability stood out. After making a layup early in the second quarter, he immediately stole a Cesar Chavez pass, raced to the basket, made a layup and drew a foul. At one point in the middle of third quarter, he scored eight straight points.

“He’s an outstanding shooter,” Pope said. “You have guys who are just scorers who just get to the rim. He can most definitely get to the rim and he’s great at doing that especially against bigger opponents.”

Added Ashe: “I just tried to get the ball and get to the rim as much as possible. That’s what I did. I didn’t want to settle for three-pointers because it wasn’t falling in the first half. So I just tried to get the rim and I got the calls.”

With the game tied 55-55 with two minutes left, Friendship Collegiate sophomore Douglas Farley drew a foul and knocked down a free throw. After a turnover, senior Bakapoto Sawi (13 points) then hit a key jumper and junior Delonte Younger hit two free throws to keep the Knights ahead.

Cesar Chavez was led by sophomore guard Tyler Thompson’s 14 points.

Ashe said he hopes to grow a few more inches, adding his father is 6 feet and his mother 5-9. Maybe a few more inches will help catch the attention of college recruiters. So far he has no offers, just interest from schools such as Bowie State, Howard and N.C. Central.

“I hope to play in college,” he said. “Right now I’m trying to go to a small D-1. I was just wanna get looks and get better. I want to get a degree.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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