DaVonte Lacy not playing like a freshman

MARCUS CAPERS, the human pogo stick who doubles as a senior guard on the Washington State basketball team, has developed a well-earned reputation as one of the most spectacular dunkers in college basketball. Alas, that did nothing to prevent teammate DaVonté Lacy from planting a verbal slam dunk in Capers' face after Lacy unleashed a vicious, two-hand jam in a recent game.

"He (Capers) actually called me when I committed and said, ‘I want to take notes from you on how to dunk,'" Lacy deadpanned.

Later, Lacy inserted the verbal needle a bit deeper into Capers.

"He knows the truth," Lacy said with a straight face. "I'm the sensei and he's the grasshopper."

This just in: Lacy is nothing like most freshmen. Not only is Lacy a confident, fun-loving player who quickly earned the respect and friendship of older teammates like Capers, but he's an unusually strong freshman guard who quickly played his way into the starting lineup.

"There's no doubt in my mind in time he's going to be a really good player, and he's pretty good right now for a freshman," coach Ken Bone said.

"DaVonte's a great player … he's probably going to be freshman of the year (in the Pacific-12 Conference)," junior point guard Reggie Moore said.

The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Lacy is averaging 8.8 points, 2.5 assists. 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. The 7-4 Cougars wrap up their nonconference schedule Thursday against 6-4 Pepperdine (7 p.m., no TV) in the Cougar Hardwood Classic, WSU's annual "home" game at Seattle's KeyArena.

Lacy has helped the Cougars win five straight games since a disastrous 0-3 showing in the 76 Classic tournament in Anaheim, Calif.

"I think it was a reality check for us, that we can't come out and take the games for granted," Lacy said. "We have to work hard any time we're on the floor."

TEAMWORK, CHEMISTRY, unselfish play, unselfish attitudes: Bone has preached the importance of all those things from the moment that WSU's two best players (Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto) announced they would pass up their senior seasons to turn pro this year.

Lacy has helped fill some of the void left by Thompson and Casto, particularly when injuries sidelined key teammates Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick and Mike Ladd.

"I know a lot of people didn't expect me to come in and play (right away), but I did," Lacy said. "My family did, and the coaches believed in me. Once I got the opportunity, I know I can play with anybody. I think my season's been going well."

Bone agrees, but the coach expects more out of Lacy. Bone wants Lacy to improve his defense, and it's a given that Lacy (who averaged nearly 20 points a game each of his last two seasons at Curtis) can improve on his 37 percent shooting from the field, including just 30 percent on 3-pointers.

"We think he can be a really good scoring guard," Bone said. "Whether it's 1 (point guard) or 2 (shooting guard), who knows? And in a sense, who cares? He's just a really good guard. He's got a good feel for the game.

"I think at times he's a little bit on the careless side right now with the ball. He sometimes makes some really sweet passes. There's other times where those end up being turnovers, so we're trying to clean that part of his game up a little bit. I think he can become a better ball handler."

BONE SAID he's "picking on him a little bit because of what he's capable of doing." Also, Lacy is the only freshman guard on WSU's active roster who was not with the team last year, so he has more to learn.

"I think it's just going to take time for him to be aware and locked in (defensively) in every situation most every second," Bone said. "We've even broken down to where he played great defense, then relaxes for two seconds, and that's all it takes for his man to get open."

"The game is a lot quicker (than in high school) and the guards are a lot quicker," Lacy said. "When they say you've got to play defense, you really have to play defense or guys at this level will embarrass you and go by you."

Bone said Lacy has "a great attitude." Lacy supports that statement by calling Bone "a great coach;" praising Moore and "all the older guys" for their guidance; insisting that he doesn't care whether he starts or comes off the bench because "it really doesn't matter to me;" and offering to play point guard, shooting guard or "the 5 (center); I'll do anything to help the team."

So far, Lacy has done just that.

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