WSU NOTEBOOK: Motum & Cougs make history

BROCK MOTUM AND the Washington State Cougars made basketball history this season. By repeating as the Pacific-12 Conference scoring champion, Motum – combined with Klay Thompson in 2010-11 – made the Cougars the first team to produce three consecutive scoring champions since the conference began recognizing the leading scorer as the player with the most points per game in all games in 1974-75.

No Cougar had ever repeated as the conference scoring champion since the Pac-12 began recognizing official scoring leaders in 1927-28. WSU's Huntly Gordon won the North Division titles in 1930-31 and 1931-32, when North and South teams in the Pacific Coast Conference played separate league schedules, and the official scoring leader was the player with the most total points in league games.

Motum is the first player to repeat as the conference scoring champion since Arizona State's Ike Diogu in 2003-04 and 2004-05. UCLA's Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) won scoring titles from 1966-67 through 1968-69, when points per game in conference games determined the champion.

Motum finished 37th in the nation with 18.7 points per game. He begins play Wednesday night at the four-day Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational, an annual tournament for prospective pros. Past Portsmouth participants include such current NBA players as Houston's Jeremy Lin, Chicago's Jimmy Butler, Portland's Wes Matthews and San Antonio's Aron Baynes from WSU.

QUARTERBACK ALEX BRINK, Washington State's all-time leading passer,was released Monday by the Winnipeg (Manitoba) Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

Brink spent most of his three seasons with Winnipeg as a backup quarterback. He set career highs last season with 217 pass attempts, 121 completions, 1,391 passing yards, eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

WASHINGTON STATE FIREBALLER Scott Simon has been named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, but hitters figure to grab the spotlight this weekend when red-hot Arizona visits the Cougars for a key three-game series.

WSU leads the Pac-12 and ranks ninth in the latest official NCAA Division I statistics (through Sunday) with a .317 batting average. Arizona is second in the conference and 13th nationally at .316.

The Wildcats (21-11, 6-6 Pac-12), who have followed a seven-game losing skid with a six-game winning streak, have three of the league's top four hitters. Arizona third baseman Brandon Dixon leads the league at .404, and WSU third baseman Nick Tanielu is second at .402.

Dixon also leads the league with 25 stolen bases, and he's only been caught twice. The Cougars (17-13, 4-5) have just 26 stolen bases as a team, but they're ninth in the nation with 1.2 double plays per game.

Simon, a 6-foot-7 right-hander out of Central Valley High in Spokane Valley, threw a five-hit shutout in a 5-0 win at Utah on Sunday. The redshirt sophomore improved to 3-0 by striking out a career-high seven in the first single-pitcher shutout for WSU since Wade Parrish in 1999.

With 21 league games to go, the seventh-place Cougars are just one game behind fourth-place Stanford after Sunday's win.

"I don't want to call it a ‘must win' for us, but it was, and Scott definitely put our team on his back," coach Donnie Marbut said.

Three former Cougars are now playing in the NBA, as guard Josh Akognon has signed a 10-day contract with Dallas after finishing fifth in China's top pro league with 29.0 points per game.

Akognon played two seasons at WSU before blossoming into one of the nation's top 3-point gunners at Cal State Fullerton.

Thompson (Golden State) and Baynes (San Antonio) are the other Cougars in the NBA.

Former NBA and WSU player Kyle Weaver tuned up for the NBA Development League playoffs by producing two outstanding performances in the Canton (Ohio) Charge's final regular-season games in Reno.

Weaver scored a season-high 29 points on Friday, then posted the first triple double in team history – 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists – on Saturday. Weaver was traded to Canton by Austin at midseason.

Former WSU pitcher Adam Conley, ranked the 10th-best major league prospect in the Miami Marlins farm system by Baseball America magazine, made a spectacular Class AA debut with the Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns.

Conley struck out eight in five innings and allowed just one baserunner – on a broken-bat single in the first inning – in a 1-0 win over Jackson (Tenn.) last Saturday in the Southern League. Forty of Conley's 55 pitches were strikes against the Seattle Mariners' farmhands.

Slugger Derek Jones seems to have put a nightmarish rookie pro season behind him. After hitting .191 with one home run in 68 games with short-season Class A Tri-City last season, Jones blasted a three-run homer, a double and a single Monday for the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists, the Colorado Rockies' Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.

Another former Coug outfielder off to a hot start in his first full season of pro ball is Kyle Johnson. He's batting .438 (7-for-16) and has hit safely in his first five Midwest League games with the Burlington (Iowa) Bees, a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Burlington opened the season last week against Clinton (Iowa) and former Coug first baseman Taylor Ard. Ard had a banner season as a rookie at Everett in the short-season Class A Northwest League last year, but he's 1-for-13 with a homer in three games with Clinton.

The first-ever CougsFirst! Trade Show is set for April 17 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. Organized by a loyal group of WSU alums that includes Jack Thompson and Robbie Tobeck, CougsFirst! is all about Cougs supporting Cougs. It a volunteer initiative dedicated to having all WSU alumni think CougsFirst! whenever and wherever they purchase a product or service.
Join hundreds of Cougs, including President Elson Floyd, in a casual and fun business environment promoting a wide variety of products and services. WSU and NFL great Drew Bledsoe will provide the keynote address and display wines from his Doubleback Winery. The CougsFirst! trade show is free to attend. Register today and bring a friend.

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