This weekend’s visits from Tacoma’s Ahmaad Rorie and Pheonix’ Nye Redding are by no means cause to close up the book on Washington State’s 2014 recruiting cycle just yet, in fact far from it until we know more about the level of interest from each. But those visits and what we know about the rest of the class does give us an indication of Ernie Kent’s focus in year one; guards and lots of them!
Talk about changing the culture in a hurry, Kent isn’t wasting time in pursuing ball handlers and more importantly immediate help in the scoring department. When he was first hired, Kent answered a question about how he could get the Cougars to score more often with a remark about recruiting kids that can already put the ball in the bucket. Simple enough on the surface, but what does that mean exactly?
How about the will to snatch up four point/shooting guard types that are scorers first along with a physical, junior college swing-forward that can improve your team’s versatility immediately? Each of Kent’s first three commits scored at least 15 points per ballgame this past season at their respective levels.
Kent watched the Cougars far too often these past couple seasons struggle to score the basketball and he is clearly looking for kids who are not afraid to take over on the offensive end. While it remains to be seen if forward Aaron Cheatum is more of a D.J. Shelton who chills in the mid-range to wide areas of an offensive set or a DeAngelo Casto type that loves to bang and hang on the block, one thing is certain, he can score from the four.
Kent may have also fallen into a serious blessing in Jalen Canty, who will be riding a football scholarship as a defensive end but will also play basketball. Canty is more of a true power forward, athletic but football-physical on the inside. As we know the Cougs don’t currently have anyone who has proven that sort of physical nature on the roster, even with seven-footer Jordan Railey weighting down the middle of the paint. Canty is most definitely more Casto than Shelton.
All of this analysis kind of hinges on Redding and/or Rorie committing or it’s back to the drawing board from what we know about this class makeup. As I mentioned earlier, neither has indicated more than certain interest in the Cougs and both have (or will soon have) some nice offers on the table, so this conversation could change from now to next week.
Personally I thought Kent would really go after another center-type, because Railey is the only listed C on the roster, but evaluating what he’s recruiting this cycle he may feel more comfortable than what I anticipated in his big-rotation or simply is looking to spread the floor. Josh Hawkinson could eventually fill into a more physical center, much like Aron Baynes did back in the day. Hawkinson is the same height (6’10”) and only 15 lbs lighter (at 245 lbs) than Baynes is while playing for the San Antonio Spurs today.
From what you would remember from Kent’s teams, he’s not too big on rim-protectors anyway. You would generally be correct, but there was a time in the early 2000’s when he had three seven-footers on the roster. Therefore Another couple of options could be explored here. First, that in the late cycle there just haven’t been any big men (available that can play at Kent’s pace) worthy of a Pac-12 scholarship offer to this point or second, the guards available have just been too good to pass up on giving offers to. Regardless, it looks like Kent’s ragged style of fast-paced play from his Oregon days are going to be making its way to the Palouse. The welcome sign for the kids he’s recruiting reads like this:
Guard Help Wanted. Can Score, Will Play!