WSU HOOPS: Offseason state of union with Bone

IF THE WSU BASKETBALL season started today – and, Ken Bone stressed, the opener is four months away – he would start Royce Woolridge at the point. In an exclusive interview with Cougfan.com this week, Bone said he also foresees plenty of minutes running the WSU point for junior college transfer Danny Lawhorn and incoming freshman Ike Iroegbu.

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Woolridge, a shooting guard most of his life, shared the point guard duties with departed senior Mike Ladd last season. Woolridge had seen little action in two years after riding the pine at mighty Kansas and then redshirting at WSU.

"I thought coming in and immediately starting at the point guard position, that was a real challenge for a guy who'd been off for two years," Bone told CF.C on Thursday. "As time went on, he showed he's a pretty good player. From about Christmas on, I thought he played very well. Right now, he's showing good leadership for the team and playing good ball."

Bone said the 6-foot-2 Iroegbu is "a good player" who can play the point or shooting guard. And the 5-10 Lawhorn was one of the national junior college leaders in assists the past two seasons.

"He (Lawhorn) creates havoc because he's so quick," Bone said. "He can do things that other guys can't because of his quickness. He's an adequate shooter … he can really pass, and he's willing to pass. That's one of the biggest obstacles at this level: Guys want to score. They really want to score because so many people value who puts points on the board.

"He does not have to score to be content on the court. It's great to have a guy like that."

BONE IS COUNTING on another transfer, 6-10, 264-pound center Jordan Railey, to start at center. The Beaverton, Ore., native saw limited playing time in two years at Iowa State.

"What he brings us is a dimension of a big, thick guy," Bone said. "We have not had a lot of big, thick bodies since before my time (Bone came to WSU in 2009)."

Bone expects Railey to help with defense, rebounding and more.

"He's a very good passer, a great screener," Bone said. "We continue to work with him on his ability to score down on the block." D.J. Shelton is back at the "4," though Bone said he expects Shelton to again work mostly from the perimeter on offense. It would be nice to have him inside more at times," Bone said, "but his strength is more on the perimeter."

Shelton and former walk-on Will DiIorio, who can play the "3" or "4" positions, replace Motum and Ladd as the only seniors on the Cougars.

Rising juniors DaVonté Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew are returning wing players. The Cougars' most heralded newcomer is redshirt freshman wing Que Johnson, who is bidding for a starting job.

"He's a 6-5, 6-6 wing who can really shoot," Bone said. "He's lost probably 15 to 20 pounds since spring. He's about 205 right now. He's a decent defender. He's definitely not a bad defender."

WASHINGTON STATE is coming off its first losing season under Bone, and the coach isn't making any outrageous predictions about wholesale improvement next season -- not after losing two-time Pac-12 scoring champion Motum and not with four months to go before the season.

"I don't know if we'll be better or not but if we are, it'll be because we have better depth," said Bone.

Bone said he has been pleased with the work ethic, attitude and camaraderie of players during spring and summer workouts. Coaches are permitted to work with players eight hours a week in the summer, and all the Cougars except walk-ons Dominic Ballard and George Hill have been working out (and taking classes) in Pullman this summer.

"It's a very, very cohesive group," Bone said.

The coach pointed out that "every single player on the team went out (together) to dinner last night. You just don't find that with a lot of teams."

BONE SAID LACY is fully recovered from minor knee surgery that sidelined him at the end of last season.

"DaVonté's body looks more toned," Bone said. "With that, he's a little quicker, a little more explosive."

Junior Longrus proved to be one of the most explosive leapers on the Cougars last season as a freshman forward.

"He just continues to get better," Bone said. "A hard worker, and he's going to find a way to get on the court."

Walk-on wing Keaton Hayenga has worked out with the Cougars in the off-season, but he continues to be dogged by knee problems. Sophomore-to-be Brett Boese also has been limited by injuries (knee, elbow).

Bone said 6-9, 220-pound freshman forward Josh Hawkinson from Shorewood High in suburban Seattle is "a skilled big that's working hard." Junior forward James Hunter, who saw little action last season as a junior college transfer, "has gotten bigger and stronger. He's working hard."

Bone said Hunter also works hard in the classroom, helping the team make its best showing academically in Bone's four seasons at Washington State.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Coug Night at the Tacoma Rainiers is this Saturday. For all the details: CLICK HERE

  • Motum's last chance to impress scouts at the NBA's Orlando Pro Summer League comes Thursday against the Orlando Magic (tape, 8 p.m., NBA TV). Motum, an undrafted rookie free agent from Washington State, did not play Wednesday in Philadelphia's third game, a 74-62 loss to Oklahoma City. Motum has six points and two rebounds in two limited appearances with the winless 76ers, who play their fourth and final game Thursday.

  • Former WSU point guard Taylor Rochestie is training with the Montenegro national team in preparation for upcoming international play. Rochestie, who grew up in Texas and California, joined the Montenegro national team last year after obtaining dual citizenship.

  • Bone said former Cougars Abe Lodwick and Marcus Capers plan to play a second season of pro ball. The coach said Lodwick appears set to return to Germany, but Capers might not go back to Finland.

  • Bone said new director of player development Rod Jensen, a longtime college coach, is "very good. He's going to add a lot." Bone plans to join his assistants on the road to recruit Friday. The Cougars would like to add big men. They have one known verbal commitment from point guard Tramane Isabell from Lakeside in Seattle.

  • Former Washington State players Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Aron Baynes and Josh Akognon will play in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. he loosely constructed "league," which runs Friday through July 22, consists largely of 2013 NBA draft picks and other young players. Baynes and Akognon played in the NBA this season; Weaver has past NBA experience; and Low is a veteran of the European pro ranks.

  • Stu Jackson, a WSU assistant coach under Len Stevens in 1983-84 and 1984-85, is resigning after 13 years as an executive in the NBA offices in New York. "Stu has made enormous contributions to the NBA," commissioner David Stern said in a news release. Jackson, 57, handed out suspensions and fines and was in charge of the NBA's international operations. He was a head coach in the NBA with the New York Knicks and a general manager and team president with the Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies.

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