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Saddi Washington and Drew Valentine's strangely parallel lives intersect at the Final Four



SAN ANTONIO – It's only fitting that the strangely parallel lives of Saddi Washington and Drew Valentine intersect at the Final Four.

Washington, an assistant in Michigan, and Valentine, an assistant at Loyola, will be on opposite benches at the Alamodome on Saturday night when the Wolverines and Ramblers will play in a national semi-final (18:09, TBS).

The game will be the final crossroads for the two close friends in a lifetime full of them. [19659002] Both Washington and Valentine had grown up in Lansing and played outside Sexton High School for a decade. After Washington moved to Western Michigan and became an assistant coach for Oakland, he recruited Valentine from high school to play for the Golden Grizzlies.

After his playing career in Oakland, Valentine 201

5 followed Oakland's coaching staff, the two trained together for a season.

Both have moved on since then, but they will be back in the same place this weekend. One day before the match, this fact shook both of them's head.

"It's crazy, it's crazy," Valentine said. "I do not know how to describe it."

Valentine said he considers Washington one of his greatest mentors and friends. He recalls that Washington helped him to move to college as a coach both socially and academically. Now they are colleagues in the coaching profession and consider each other as close friends, often speaking during the season – and more often during the NCAA tournament.

So what happens if these two close friends have to train against each other?

"It's kind of like brothers," Washington said. "They want to kick each other in the ass, but at the same time they are happy for each other."

For Valentine, the game has even more irony. He grew up in Lansing as the son of former Michigan State player Carlton Valentine. He and his brother, Denzel, would attend Michigan State home games and get players' autographs later.

Now he reaches the largest college basketball stage and his opponent is Michigan State's biggest rival.

"It's crazy that we're here. Here we play Michigan, especially with how we grew up," Valentine said. "We do not have too much love for her."

Between his time as coach and coach in Oakland, Valentine spent two years with Michigan State coaching staff as an assistant. In the second of these years, Michigan State went to the Final Four in 2015, and Valentine said, as a result, he was able to give Loyola players an idea of ​​what to expect when they go to their first Final Four.

Valentine said his brother, who now plays for the Bulls, plans to fly down to see the game on Saturday. Bryn Forbes, Valentine's childhood friend who now plays for the Spurs, plans to make the trip through the city to be there too.

There they will watch Valentine and Washington coaches on the same court as their lives cut one more time.

"There are two Lansing guys just enjoying this dream," Washington said.


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