When you think about Washington D.C. playground ball, two names need to be mentioned. One is Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones, and the other is Andrew “SpongeBob” Washington.
In our last issue of Bounce, we put SpongeBob on the cover because he’s been killing the summer circuit for so long, and is now dominating overseas. Baby Shaq on the other hand has been known nationally ever since gaining fame during the And1 streetball tours, and is considered one of the most talented players in the entire DMV area. Both guys came out this weekend for the Washington D.C. Red Bull King of the Rock tour, a one-on-one tournament where the winner won $1,000 and the two finalists earned trips to test their skills in Alcatraz in September for the right to win $10,000. As fate would have it, they matched up in the Sweet 16, with Baby Shaq beating his good friend by two. He went on the win the entire tournament.
I caught up with both of them at the event to talk hoops and their best summer matchups.
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Dime: To start, kinda talk about where you’ve been playing this summer.
SpongeBob: This summer I’ve been playing in D.C. in the Goodman League outside and the Goodman indoor league at Spingam High School. I’ve been playing up in New York in the (Nike) Pro City a lot as well. I was going up there every week and playing in that league as well.
Dime: What’s been the best matchup that you’ve had this summer?
SB: This summer? Probably me against Marshon Brooks from the Nets or Danny Green, he used to play with the Cavs, when I was up in New York. Those were some pretty good games, but this summer I really been focusing on bettering myself and not going so much one-on-one as I’ve done in the past.
Dime: What kinda made you want to do that?
SB: Just because I play in Europe, and you’ve always gotta be able to develop your game and enhance it. In Europe, you’re not going to be able to get 30, 40 points with seven, eight, nine dribbles in a row so you gotta be able to get your buckets in three or four dribbles, and take good shots. So that’s my main goal. You gotta be able to transition yourself.
Dime: Where are you playing in Europe?
SB: I played in the Ukraine last year.
Dime: Where’s your favorite place to play?
SB: Out here in Barry Farms. I love it. It’s my best.
Dime: What makes it so special?
SB: It’s just the whole atmosphere…people on the court. You gotta bring your soul to the hole like Miles (Rawls) says on the mic. If you don’t come down here and play hard or you can’t do it, then they will definitely let you know that you can’t do it. You needa come work on your game before you come back. But when you can do it, they love you you know what I mean? So you just gotta take the good with the bad, but this is the best place, the best atmosphere, the best court that I’ve ever played on.
Dime: You think it’s the best league in the country?
SB: Me personally, yes. I’m a little biased because I’m from D.C. Rucker is very good. They are getting better and also the Pro City is very good indoor. The Pro City indoor is a very, very good league too. But my personal opinion, I think it’s the best, if not one of the two best that I’ve ever played on.
Dime: Who do you think will win the Goodman and Drew league matchup?
SB: Um, I think the Goodman League will win that, of course. I’m from D.C. so I think the Goodman League is gonna pull it out.
Dime: Describe yourself and your game. How do you play?
SB: I’m just a power guard. A power guard. I’ve added a little finesse to my game but I’m still mostly a power guard.
Dime: What’s the best part about playing one on one for you?
SB: It’s you against that man to the basket. That’s the main thing about it.
Dime: Talk about what brought you down here to play at the Red Bull King of the Rock.
SB: Well Miles had called me. You guys did an article on me last year, and I just felt like no matter what, I’m giving back and showing up, playing my game. I’ve got an opportunity to win this and enhance my game that much more, and get my name that much bigger.
Dime: Do you have a go-to move?
SB: Yeah, mid-post, pump fake, pump fake, left floater in the middle of the lane.
Dime: How’d you develop that?
SB: I used to play in the post through high school. I was smaller than everybody else so I had to get a hook shot. So it was like half a hook, but it goes in at a high percentage (laughs).
Dime: How’d you hear about this and why did you decide to come down?
Baby Shaq: I heard about it from the commissioner of the Goodman League and he made me play. Yeah, he (basically) made me play.
Dime: Where you been playing at this summer?
BS: I’ve been playing down here, and at Spingam, the Urban Coalition Pro-Am.
Dime: What’s the best matchup you’ve had this summer?
BS: Um, Kevin Durant. That’s the only good matchup I’ve had.
Dime: Where was that?
BS: It was in the Pro-Am here, at Spingam. Oh, we won. I had 35. It was a shootout. Me and Kevin had a shootout.
Dime: When you’re going up against someone like that â€“ he’s real tall â€“ what type of things do you try to do to go at him?
BS: Deny the ball. The longer I keep the ball out of his hands, the better chance I have of defending him. He’s seven feet, for real. I dunno why everybody keeps saying 6-10. He’s seven feet, with a wingspan of 7-5 so I gotta keep the ball outta his hands. If not, there’s nothing I can do after that.
Dime: What’s one thing you wish you had in your game?
BS: Height. I wish I was taller.
Dime: What about when you’re playing one on one, what types of things do you use to your advantage? I see you in the post a lot, using spin moves…
BS: Size against smaller players and my speed against taller players.
Dime: Do you have a go-to move?
BS: No. I just play. Just play hard, that’s my go-to move.
Who’s your favorite playground player?
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