Seen & Heard on Planet Coug

WHEN IT COMES to Washington State basketball, Ed Haskins knows the look of success. His big brother Aaron was a mainstay on George Raveling's last NCAA Tourney team and Ed himself was a walk-on under Kelvin Sampson in the early ‘90s. Today, Haskins is the head coach of the reigning Class 4A state champion Garfield Bulldogs. And he has a message for Cougar fans: Ernie Kent is a "gold mine" hire.

"Ernie's a guy who could be right there with Raveling if he plants roots in Pullman. It'll be a gold mine because he has a proven record of winning and getting talented kids," Haskins told CF.C this week.

"Ernie's a great recruiter, to be perfectly honest," Haskins said. "He's going to have an immediate impact in Seattle. He has real feet in the Northwest."

In his time at Oregon, Kent found particular recruiting success in the Northwest and the Midwest. Two of his greatest players were from the state of Washington: Aaron Brooks from Franklin/Seattle and Luke Ridnour from Blaine. Both were first-round NBA draft choices.

"He's a great hire -- not a good choice, but a great choice," said Haskins, who has spent the last 16 years as either the head coach or associate head coach of Seattle basketball powerhouses Garfield, Franklin and Rainier Beach. "I don't claim to know him inside out, but when you've been doing this as long as I have you know who the good guys are. He's a good guy."

Moreover, he said, Kent's "got a name -- kids float to that now. That's good news for the Cougars. He has relationships with the shoe labels, he really knows everyone in the sport. That's important to kids."

Kent has been heavily involved in USA Basketball over the years and is the associated executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

As for the future plans of Garfield star Tramaine Isabell, who signed a letter of intent with Ken Bone in November, Haskins declined to comment. He said Isabell will need to speak himself. After Bone's dismissal, the All-State guard told CF.C he would wait until the new coach is in place before deciding whether to ask for a release from his LOI. Isabell tweeted Monday that he and Kent had a good talk.

KENT SAID IN HIS PRESS CONFERENCE on Wednesday that new assistant coaches Silvey Dominguez and Greg Graham are experts on different sides of the ball -- Graham on offense and Dominguez on defense.

Kent and Dominguez were assistants together at Colorado State in the mid-80s, and haven't coached together since Kent was the head man at St. Mary's. In two of their seasons together there, the Gaels surrendered just under 67 points per game. He is well known in coaching circles for his expertise in the match-up zone defense.

WSU will be Dominguez' 12th college coaching stop in a career that began in 1979. He has been with Air Force the past three seasons. Other stops included Utah with Rock Majerus, USC with Henry Bibby, and New Mexico with Steve Alford.

One more note on Dominguez: He is said to have long-standing recruiting ties in both Northern and Southern California.

Graham and Kent go all the way back to Dick Harter and the Kamikaze Kids, when both played for Oregon in the 1970s. Graham was an assistant to Kent at both St. Mary's (1992-97) and Oregon (1997-2002) before taking over for Rod Jensen at the helm at Boise State. In eight seasons with the Broncos, Graham went 142-112. He has been an assistant at Bradley for the last three years. Kent on Wednesday reiterated what he used to call Graham when they were coaching at Oregon: "an offensive guru."

Kent said Curtis Allen and Ray Lopes, members of Ken Bone's staff, will both be considered for his third and final assistant coaching spot. Allen, by the way, was the lead recruiter for Isabell.

OH THOSE SILLY KIDS FROM THE 1970s; Kent said Wednesday he remembers coming into Beasley as a player and getting spit wads fired at he and his fellow Ducks from the end zone during warm ups. He gave a nod to George Raveling and some of the great Cougar players of that era – Steve Puidokas, Don Collins and James Donaldson – who filled Beasley and stoked the intense fan passion in those days.

THREE LONG-TIME COUGARS want fellow Washington State alums to join them in elevating Washington State athletics to the next level. Larry Schreck, who played on the WSU's 1965 College World Series team; Bud Norris, a starter for the Cougs in both football and basketball in the mid-60s; and tireless Alumni Association vet Ford Barrett have teamed up to help convince WSU partisans to join the Cougar Athletic Fund.

Their volunteer efforts are part of the RECRUIT A COUG campaign, whose aim is for WSU's booster arm to become the largest among the Pac-12's schools in the Pacific Northwest. As of this past fall, the Cougar Athletic Fund totaled 6,006 members – about 300 fewer than Oregon State, 2,800 fewer than Washington and 3,200 behind Oregon.

You can join the CAF for as little as $50 a year.

"We are convinced that with greater financial support from thousands of alums, friends, and followers of WSU, Dr. Floyd and Bill Moos can build a solid foundation for academics and athletics that will flourish far into the future," the three have written in letters to fellow Cougs."

The CAF underwrites the cost of athletic scholarships, and right now the gap between what the WSU athletic department pays for scholarships each year and the donations it raises to cover them is $3.4 million. No other school in the Pac-12 must reach into its broader athletic department budget like that to make up the difference between scholarships costs and annual fund donations.

SPEAKING OF THE CAF, members have been receiving personal phone calls this week from Cougar football players thanking them for the support. On Wednesday evening, junior safety Taylor Taliulu was among those making calls. When asked by one of the people he was calling how it felt to be the grand old man of the Cougar secondary this season, he said he looked forward to leading the group and was ready for the challenge. He said he was joined in the phone banking by Toni Pole, Theron West, Dom Williams, Mitch Peterson, Isaac Dotson and Jeremiah Allison.

One of the most visible and effective fundraisers on the CAF staff over the last several years, Spokane-based Justin Felker, is leaving the athletics department at the end of this month to join the WSU Foundation. Consider it a huge loss for Bill Moos and a whale of a gain for Elson Floyd. Felker will focus on securing major gifts on the East Coast, but Spokane will remain his home base.

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