WSU hoops recruiting: how guard focus adds up

ERNIE KENT HAS one spot left in his first Cougar recruiting class. And you can pretty much bet right now that the final seat is going to be filled by a guard even though three of the four commits the Cougs already have are guards. Here's why: the forwards and centers in this recruiting cycle have been pretty well picked over but there remains some serious guard talent still on the market.

Moreover, Kent's system is heavily reliant on multi-dimensional guards, to the point it'll be no surprise this season to at times see four guards on the court at the same time.

The only forward in the Cougs' recruiting class -- a class which already has three guards -- is 6-7 JC transfer Aaron Cheatum.

With the graduation loss of D.J. Shelton on a squad already thin in the post it would seem natural that Kent would want another big man.

And in the ideal world, he would. But it's May -- and the late signing period deadline is coming up fast on the 21st -- and virtually all the post players, outside of the project-types, are taken.

So Kent is going after the proverbial "best player available" and will address the post situation in the 2015 recruiting class -- a class that is largely uncommitted and one that Kent has time to woo.

This approach adds up in every way:

  • There are good guard prospects still available, including two whom the Cougs have offered: Ahmaad Rorie and Brandon Chauca.
  • Kent uses a ton of guards in his system and getting good ones in now will help set a sturdy foundation for the program.
  • Veteran guards DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew will be gone after this coming season.

    It's interesting that the three guards already in the Cougs' 2014 class -- Tramaine Isabell, Jackie Davis and Ny Redding -- all have played point guard. Same for Rorie and Chauca.

    OF NOTE: SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THIS STORY WAS PUBLISHED, WSU RELEASED ISABELL FROM HIS LOI. INSIGHT WHY CAN BE FOUND IN OUR "COUGAR BLOG" ON THE FRONT PAGE.

    But it's no surprise.

    Kent doesn't look at his guards as points or shooters. He wants all of them to be shooters, passers and handlers. At Oregon, he constantly had two "point guards" in the game at the same time. Notables such as Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter, for instance, were frequently on the floor together.

    Kent's system demands excellent guard play and he won't hesitate to put three or four guards on the court simultaneously. He also tends to use a deep rotation.

    So it makes real sense why Kent would look to fill the final spot with a guard.

    Next year, after the graduation of Lacy, Kernich-Drew and Jordan Railey, Kent will have three scholarship spots to fill. Since the guard contingent largely will be in place thanks to this 2014 class, look for forwards and centers to start popping up in inordinate numbers on the prospect lists.

    And if Kent can land a couple front-court players to go along with Cheatum and Junior Longrus, WSU's rebuilding process may not take nearly as long as the results of the past two seasons might indicate.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Royce Woolridge has signed with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and Jermaine Morgan, who signed with WSU last fall but received his release after Ken Bone's departure, is headed to Bradley.

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