WSU increasingly looking toward youth

WITH THE RELEVATION that junior DaVonté Lacy will miss an extensive amount of time, Washington State coach Ken Bone was clear during his Tuesday Pac-12 coaches teleconference that the Cougars will continue to rely heavily on their youth. But he said that is not solely related to injuries as WSU prepares to play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Stanford (TV: Pac-12 Networks).

Bone did not say that true freshman Josh Hawkinson has passed junior center Jordan Railey on the depth chart. Their roles might eventually switch based on how they have performed in games, though. Hawkinson averages just 6.6 minutes per game, which is less than half of Railey's (15.3) rate. Despite that, Hawkinson has averaged 2 rebounds per game, which is just slightly less than Railey's 2.7 per game.

Based "just statistically," Bone said Railey might not deserve to play at all. He cautioned that Railey's practice performance indicates the Iowa State transfer can help the team, though. He also noted that junior Dexter Kernich-Drew showcased his outside shooting prowess in practice while struggling in games before breaking out for 24 points in a 71-70 overtime loss Wednesday against Colorado.

Without patience, Kernich-Drew might not have had that opportunity. But Bone said the 6-foot-10 Hawkinson also is making it difficult to keep him off the court. He noted a key rebound Hawkinson corralled near the sideline in Sunday's 49-46 win against Utah. On that play, Hawkinson quickly found Kernich-Drew for a layup.

"We're really excited about Josh," Bone said. "He's been very efficient. We're starting to take a look at Josh."

The victory against Utah was the Cougars' first in the Pac-12. WSU (8-8 overall, 1-3 conference) also benefited from redshirt freshman guard Que Johnson converting 10 of 13 free throws en route to a team-high 14 points against the Utes. After watching his team shoot just three free throws against Colorado, Bone was pleased with the result.

"I think Que continues to grow as a player," said Bone, noting that Johnson missed part of his senior season of high school and then sat out last season as a partial qualifier. "He continues to get better in different ways game by game."

WSU will need Johnson to continue that trend as Bone revealed that Lacy, who averages a team-best 17.7 points per game, will miss 4 to 6 weeks retroactive to Jan. 5 at Arizona State after suffering a rib cartilage injury. Lacy has not played since that contest. Bone said Lacy will have a CT scan at some point today.

The Cougars do not have another player who averages in double figures, while Stanford features four. Guard Chasson Randle leads the Cardinal with 19.5 points per game, but Bone is just as concerned about the Cardinal's talent in the post. Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis combine to average 24.8 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.

"They do present some different problems," Bone said. "Powell and Huestis — they're long and athletic and that can cause problems on defense."

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