Feb 23, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars forward D.J. Shelton (23) and Arizona Wildcats forward Grant Jerrett (33) battle for positioning during a free throw attempt during the second half at McKale Center. Arizona beat Washington Sate 73-56. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
If the Washington State basketball team hopes to prove their doubters wrong, DJ Shelton will have to grow up in a hurry. Not the type of growth that simply points to his stature as a senior either. Not just a swing from his regular 6.2 pts per game to double digits.
Rather, it’s time for him to become an All-Pac-12 type of performer on a nightly basis and score 15 plus a night. To me, he’s the only guy that can really put the Cougs on his back for stretches and carry the team.
We saw that in the Pac-12 Tournament he can be the player that energizes the team and simply raises their level of play. WSU has to get that from him every night if they are going to overcome the speculation that’s led to the preseason vote of 12th place finisher.
Don’t get me wrong, Royce Woolridge can be explosive and I’m sure Que Johnson will eventually be a difficult match up as a scorer for the defense. DaVonte Lacy will give you a consistent 10-15 and occasionally break out for 21 +.
That’s all great, but it’s my belief that Shelton is going to present the biggest (and possibly only) opportunity for the Cougs to create a bonafide mismatch on a nightly basis. WSU finally has a true center and enough guards/forwards to fill all the spots, but Shelton is the only Coug that can truly play the 3, 4 or 5.
We saw when he played well in 2012, the Cougs made it difficult for their opponent. When he wasn’t a factor, the Cougars were simply overwhelmed at either end of the floor. No doubt this will be the case in 2013.