New Grambling basketball coach to fans: ‘We need you to come home’

Newly named Grambling men’s basketball coach Bobby Washington, hired nearly a week after National Signing Day, knows the task before him.

“We’ve got to hit the recruiting trail; that’s no secret,” Washington said.

So, he did.

Moments after learning that Grambling would remove the interim tag he’s carried for nearly seven months, Washington was already on the road, hoping to build what will be his first, belated recruiting class.

In fact, he hadn’t even worked out contract details with Grambling athletics director J. Lin Dawson. There was too much work to be done.

“I think it’s time to set a solid foundation,” said Washington, who may have lost as many as three commitments while the search process continued. “We want to set some concrete things down so that we can continue building.”

Richwood product Raschard Boatner, an all-conference performer at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, is apparently still committed to the Tiger men’s program.

Washington said he is focused on building height in this class, something his initial squad lacked.

What it didn’t: Heart.

After beginning the season with the devastating death of a team mate during offseason training — that ultimately led to former coach Rick Duckett’s departure last September — Grambling would finish 7-21 overall and 4-14 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. But the campaign ended on a high note, as the Tigers advanced past regular-season conference champion Jackson State in the SWAC’s postseason tournament.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Washington said, “if we want to build on what happened late last year.”

Other candidates mentioned in the search included Southeastern Louisiana’s Roman Banks, Lamar’s Tic Price, Texas Southern’s Nick Van Exel and Kevin Nickelberry, in his second season at Hampton.

“I think Coach Washington did a good job last season,” Dawson said in a news release. “I’m impressed by his vigor and his passion for the game. He has shown that he can fit in well with the Grambling community and he provides the team with the stability that is needed.”

A native of Lexington, Ky., Washington previously served as head men’s basketball coach at Seminole Community College in Sanford, Fla., for five seasons. Prior to that, Washington spent three years as an assistant at Florida A&M, where in 2004 the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Rattlers won a first-round NCAA tournament contest. He began his collegiate coaching career at Eastern Kentucky as a graduate assistant under Travis Ford.

“I want to summon everybody in Tiger Nation,” Washington said. “We need you to come home. We need your support, we need you to show up — and we need you to show out. It’s time to get to work. That’s what it’s going to take to bring this program back to the forefront. And that’s what I’m ready to do.”

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