Q&A: Keishana Washington on Basketball, Balance and Being a Dragon

The Drexel women’s basketball guard has had a fiery season and was at one point the leading scorer in the country.
Keishana Washington on the court

Keishana Washington surveys the court.

Drexel women’s basketball guard Keishana Washington keeps a lot of plates in the air — and a lot of basketballs swishing through the hoop. The fifth-year graduate psychology student leads by example on and off the court by exemplifying the ambition of Drexel’s Dragons. She was named Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) MVP and CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, respectively, as well as a slew of other awards, and she’s gotten off to a fiery start in the 2022-23 season. She spent three weeks in December as the leading scorer in the country and closed out 2022 with that accolade.

She took her academics to the next level this year and is now working towards her master’s degree in psychology. She balances school, basketball and life with a little Dragon determination — and a lot of practice.

Q: How do you approach your master’s program? 

A: I’ve been passionate about psychology for the past four years and I’m continuing with that in grad school to take it a step further. I chose this program because of my interest in conducting research, specifically pertaining to cognitive function. The main difference between undergrad and grad school is that the course load is more intense, but there’s also more flexibility because my classes meet less frequently. Because there’s a lot more content, I’m putting in a couple extra hours into studying and really understanding what I’m learning and how it can be applied. 

I also approach my master’s program as an opportunity to expand on my foundation of psychology. One thing that I am really looking forward to is writing my master’s thesis, which will allow me to do extensive research on a topic in the realm of women’s basketball.

Q: How do you approach the basketball season and training, especially this season?  

A: It takes a lot of hours in the gym, a lot of hours doing film. I work a lot with [Associate Head Women’s Basketball] Coach Stacy Weiss] and we do a lot of individual workouts and spend time talking about basketball. She holds me accountable to doing the little things necessary to help our team be successful. The same goes for [Head Women’s Basketball Coach] Amy [Mallon]. We just have conversations talking basketball, and I tell her the things I notice on the floor, and she tells me the things she needs from me and how we can implement those things on the court.

I had a year of consistency, which I would say was the key for me especially scoring-wise. Like I said, I put in a lot of extra hours to be consistent in all areas of my game. That also came with a lot of trust in my teammates and my coaches and vice versa, with them trusting me to do what they knew I was capable of doing.

I think our team [this year] has some growing to do but right now we look very good. We have things to work on, but they can be fixed. We’re a young team, but when gel, we’re a very successful team. We have two talented freshmen and I’m excited about them and their careers in the future, but I think we look solid right now and I’m excited to see what this team can do. 

Q: What do you do to make sure you balance school and basketball?  

A: I try to find those periods of time where I can actually sit down and study and then take a break and study again because I feel like I’m always on the go with practice or lift or meetings or things like that; so, I find time where I can focus on just school. It’s definitely very difficult but I think over the years I’ve learned how to prioritize basketball and school. Those things come first. It’s about finding a balance between studying, playing basketball and finding time for myself. A typical class day involves an 8 a.m. lift, 10 a.m. class, treatment in the training room at 12:50 p.m., 1 p.m. practice, 3 p.m. post practice treatment, and 6 p.m. dinner. Finding time within my schedule to study, meet with mentors/advisors, watch game film, get treatment, do extra on court work, etc., is crucial, and staying disciplined in maximizing my time has become extremely important.

(When I was named the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year), I didn’t know I was in the running for it. It was the first year the CAA has had that award, so that’s an honor in itself to be the first player who stood out on and off the court to receive that award. Something my parents always preached to me was that school has the power to take you a lot further than sports does, so that’s something that I always put first in being a student athlete.

Q: What does being a Dragon mean to you?  

A: Drexel was my top school because of the family atmosphere they have within the team, from my teammates to coaches. My favorite part is hanging around my teammates, whether that be at practice or lift or during activities off the court. They make college a lot more enjoyable. You have 13 other people that are experiencing pretty much the same thing, so we have a different bond that you wouldn’t necessarily get with someone who isn’t a student athlete.

Over my five years, I have been so grateful to see my professors and classmates support the team at our games. My growth over these years has allowed me to be more confident in who I am as a player and person. When I first got here, I was a quiet freshman, and now I walk around with confidence with the ability to greet everyone. This confidence has helped me excel on the court. Being the leading scorer means having teammates and coaches that put their trust in me to perform at a high level. To me, being the leader scorer is just a stat, but what drives me the most is leading this team to win games and championships. I’m very proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished over the years, but none of that could have been done without the support of my family, coaches, teammates, and Drexel community.

I am lucky to have administration that is supportive of our team in all aspects; especially last year when the CAA needed a school to host the conference tournament, the Drexel community stepped in to make it happen for our program. It was one of the most electric environments I’ve played in and I’m grateful to those that made it happen. Being a Dragon means having a community that you can always lean on for support, a family.

Q: What would you tell fellow Dragons who want more balance in life?  

A: My advice would be to take it one step at a time. I think something I struggled with earlier, like in my freshman or sophomore year, was trying to do too much at one time. I was trying to my homework, while figuring out my schedule, and planning when to do film or extra work, etc. etc., instead of knocking off one thing before moving onto the next, which is something I’ve improved to give myself that balance without feeling overwhelmed. You should focus on what’s in front of you rather than what’s down the road. The same goes with basketball. You can’t think about Game Three if you haven’t even gotten through Game One. So be patient, take your time and take a breath, which is something I frequently tell our freshmen now.