Pebblebrook High School, located right outside Atlanta, Georgia, has been one of the better elite basketball programs in the Peach State. Not only have they been one of the best in their state, but the Falcons have made noise nationally under head coach George Washington.
Washington, who began as the head coach at Pebblebrook in 2011, has had multiple winning seasons with the program and has sent a plethora of prospects onto college. Guys like Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jared Harper (New Orleans Pelicans), Ty Hudson (Jacksonville State), Derek Ogbeide (overseas), Dwight Murray Jr. (Rider), Elias Harden (Xavier), Mervin James (Rider), Trhae Mitchell (G-League), Tyler Shirley (South Alabama), Jamal Clyce (Georgia State), and Danny Stubbs (Georgia State), and others have came through the Pebblebrook program.
I had a chance to speak with Coach Washington about the culture he set at Pebblebrook High School over the years, Georgia high school basketball as a whole, and more.
The Falcons reached the GHSA 7A Final Four this past season, finishing 28-3 overall, ranked nationally by ESPN, and while playing a national schedule.
“Last year’s team was different than a lot of teams I coached. We started four guards, so we just looked at what Baylor did over the summer and tried to duplicate it on the high school level. So I put four guys on the floor that can dribble, shoot, pass, and score and they were a matchup problem for most teams.
The pace we played at, most teams could not keep up with that pace for four quarters. During the off-season, we conditioned like no other. I got the marine core in and did some condition. We conditioned to a level that we have never conditioned before and those guy embraced it, which made it easier for them. ” He explained.
Pebblebrook High School basketball has always been known for their aggressiveness, fast-paced, gritty, and hard-nosed like style of play under George Washington and his staff. I asked him to just talk about the culture he set in stone and started at Pebblebrook.
“The goal is to be the toughest team on the court. Play the right way and play at a pace other teams can’t play at. We want to be physical, but the pace we play at, I do not think other teams can keep up. The culture here is to play hard, play the right way, and be physical. That is what preach everyday, practice is war. A couple fights break out at practice, but at the end of the day it is all about getting better as group.” He answered.
Collin Sexton, one of the most exciting prospects to watch back in high school and now currently playing in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers, spent his last two years at Pebblebrook High School under coach Washington.
Sexton blew up during the summer after his junior season, from being unranked to ranked in the top-10 in his class and winning a gold medal with the USA junior national team receiving the most valuable player award.
“Coaching guys like that with high IQ, there are going to always question things, and not in a disrespectful way, but they want to know the why? The how? For us, it was just teaching him how to play the right way all the time but allowing him to be himself. One thing I’ve told guys, every player that we’ve had I’m going to allow you to be you, the best version of you.
We have to work hard for you to be the best version of yourself. So we allowed Collin to be Collin, but with some restraints, and with some things we wanted him to do. He got a lot of technicals at practice, so he wouldn’t get them in the game. If he got a technical at practice, his team ran. It got to a point where his teammates told him we cannot get this technical. He never lost a scrimmage at practice and I put him on the worst team during practice.” He explained.
“Creating a culture where guys buy into whatever you preach and trust what you doing. He trusted everything we said. Just watching his growth over those two years. First year, he had to learn a lot from Jared (Harper), he was second in command to Jared. Senior year, it was his show and he taught guys like Dwight Murray on how to play the right way and how to do certain things.” He continued to explain.
I asked coach Washington to just speak on Georgia basketball as a whole and how tough it is to play in the Peach State and also win? Past guys like Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Malik Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves), Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves), Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers), Isaac Okoro (Cleveland Cavaliers), Wendell Carter Jr. (Orlando Magic), and plenty more represent the state of Georgia at the highest level.
“Aw man, start off with great coaches, players, events. Georgia basketball, I would put us up against anybody. We are working on an event now where we will have a group of us next year go out to Dallas and play those Dallas teams. I just think we are ahead of everybody in development, in athletes, and coaching. I think all those things together play a big part. The trainers in the state are also great, like your Rob Allen’s, Nick Stapleton’s, and others.
Then we have great coaches like Larry (Thompson), Sharman (White), Whitehart (Allen), Moultrie (Greg), and others. Some great players too like Isaiah Collier, Kanaan Carlyle, Bryson Tiller, Stephon Castle, who recently secured a gold medal with the USA U18 team earlier this week. It is a lot great players here in Georgia here man.
When I look at the Celtics 15U, Game Elite 15U, Georgia Stars 15U, we have a lot of great young players coming up in that 2026 class. We have a lot of great talent in Georgia and all of us will play anybody, anytime, and anywhere so tell them guys in Dallas we coming to see them next year.” He went ahead and explained.
Pebblebrook will once again be one of the better teams in the state of Georgia coming into the 2022-2023 high school season. I asked George what are the expectations for this season’s team coming in?
“I tell them, don’t be the group that don’t go to the final four. Don’t be the group that don’t meet or beat the standard of the team before you. It’s groups in the gym now working hard. We really want to win the state championship. Jaiun (Simon) has been talking about that consistently, winning the state championship, and he wants to be the guy that gives us our first state championship. He says I’ll have to put a statue of him in front of our new gym if he wins us that state championship. I told him if he does, I would buy the statue of him to put in front of the school.
The other thing from me that I’m most proud of is how many kids we got into college and graduated college. That is the thing I love most. I want to win the state championship more than anybody because that puts you in a different coaching category and it does a lot for the school and the community. The numbers of kids we put into college over the last 12 years, it is only a few schools that could say they have done the same consistently and that is something we are very proud of.