#31 Dwayne 'Pearl' Washington
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6'3" 190 lbs Guard
HS: Boys & Girls Brooklyn, NY
Born: 1/6/1964 Brooklyn, NY
Season Stats
Season Cl Pos G GS Min FG FGA % FT FTA % Asst Reb Fls DQ TO ST BS Pts PPG APG RPG
1983-84 Fr G 32 32 1087 185 340 54.4% 90 136 66.2% 199 83 100 0 111 76 3 460 14.4 6.2 2.6
1984-85 So G 31 31 1057 166 339 49.0% 138 176 78.4% 188 91 79 1 139 62 2 470 15.2 6.1 2.9
1985-86 Jr G 32 32 1034 216 404 53.5% 122 168 72.6% 250 79 87 3 105 82 1 554 17.3 7.8 2.5

Pearl Washington was one of the most electrifying players in Syracuse basketball history, thrilling record size Carrier Dome crowds with his playground style of basketball and his uncanny knack to make the big plays. The Pearl was the most highly recruited basketball player in the country before committing to Syracuse. He was already a legend in New York City, and fans couldn't wait to see him come up north. And he did not disappoint. He may have been the most important recruit in Syracuse basketball history, in terms of his impact Pearl Washingtonof drawing crowds to the Dome, and helping SU to recruit their dynamic teams of the mid and late '80's.

The Pearl was not a fast player, nor did he have any leaping ability. He instead possessed amazing ball handling skills, an uncanny court sense, and the ability to pull off unbelievable plays. Teams could not press Syracuse full court, because the Pearl could dribble right through it; even Georgetown's vaunted full court press wasn't an issue for him. He could run the full court press, but just as easily, and more magnificently, run a half court offense. His signature move was including a shake-and-bake, then a drive to the hoop for an easy lay up past the defense's big men. And if defenses collapsed on him when he penetrated the zone, he kicked the ball out to an eager Greg Monroe or Raf Addison, who would take the open shot.

The Pearl was special his first days at Syracuse, but hit the national headlines, and made the first mark of his legend on January 24, 1984. A game against Boston College saw the two teams struggle close all night long. Boston College tied the game with a free throw with a few seconds left on the clock. But Martin Clark missed the second free throw, and Pearl took the ball, raced down the court and as the clock expired he shot the ball from over the half court mark. Swish! Nothing but net as Syracuse won the game; and in great showmanship, the Pearl never stopped running after he took the shot, all the way to the locker room. Later than winter he would set an SU record with 18 assists against UConn (since broken).

His favorite place away from home was Madison Square Garden, and he made that arena his personal showcase in regular season games against St. John's, and in the Big East tournament. His freshman year, he single handedly took the Orangemen to the Big East Championship finals. Again he was electrifying, at times making Georgetown's outstanding defense look like it was standing still. A controversial call late in the game allowed Georgetown to tie it up in regulation, and the Orangemen lost in overtime, but not before the Pearl had everyone shaking their head in disbelief.

The Pearl was not an outstanding defender, but could pester a guard all day. He tended to be too aggressive on offense at times, and received more than his share of charging calls and turnovers. However, during his time at Syracuse, the team rarely lost a close game; with the clock running down, there was nobody you'd rather have the ball in the hands of. In his career at Syracuse, the Orangemen were 6-1 in games decided by 1 point; more on the one later. He was not a great outside shooter, and he was slightly above average at the free throw line, though he was a clutch free throw shooter.

His junior season, he carried on with the magic. Raf Addison was injured and was not nearly as effective the last half of the season. So the Pearl put the team on his back, and picked up his scoring. He had two 35 point games against St. Johns, and led the Orangemen again to the Big East finals, with a dramatic 75-73 win over Georgetown in the semi-finals. In the championship game against St. Johns, the Pearl was magnificent, with 20 points and 14 assists. With 28 seconds on the clock and the Orangemen up by 1, the Pearl was fouled. Uncharacteristically, he missed the front end of the one and one. St. John's Ron Rowan sank a heart breaker with 9 seconds to go. Not to be undone, the Pearl did one of his classic coast to coast drives, and went to the hoop for the game winning lay up. Unfortunately, the Redmen's Walter Berry was able to get a block of the shot, and the Orangemen fell short by one. But the Pearl was impressive enough to win the tournament MVP honors (68 pts and 29 assists in three games), despite the Orangemen losing. The St. John's loss was the only time Syracuse lost a one point game during the Pearl's career.

The NCAA tournament his junior year would end in disappointment to an upset minded Navy team led by future NBA great David Robinson. Shortly afterwards, the Pearl announced he would forego his senior season at Syracuse, and go professional (the first player under Jim Boeheim to leave school early).

His legacy at Syracuse was intact. He was the Big East Rookie of the Year, First Team Big East all three years of college, first team All-American his junior year.

Washington was the 13th pick in the first round of the NBA draft, and went to the New Jersey Nets. His style, size, and lack of speed were not well suited to the NBA's fast pace athletic style. The Pearl would play three years in the NBA, before calling it quits.

NBA Career Statistics
Pos G Min FG FGA % FT FTA % 3FG 3FA 3% Asst Reb Fls DQ TO ST BS Pts PPG APG RPG
16 87 18.4%

Washington would be named to the Big East Conference 25th anniversary first team in 2004, and to the Syracuse University All Century team in 2000. His uniform #31 was retired by Syracuse. He was named a Syracuse Letterwinner of Distinction in 2014.

© RLYoung 2005, 2014