New Cougs fit his style of play, Kent says

THERE’S A CERTAIN style of play needed to fit in Ernie Kent’s offense. For starters, you’ve got to be in excellent shape, because you’re going to be busting your hump up and down the court when your number is called. Secondly, you’ve got to shoot the rock with confidence. And on the first day of the basketball early signing period, Kent said he landed four players who are ready to do just that.

On Wednesday, Kent officially welcomed Derrien King, Renard Suggs, Jeff Pollard and Robert Franks to the Cougar basketball team.

“We have a particular style of basketball that we play that requires a particular skill level and what I mean by skill, the ability to pass, dribble and shoot the basketball in a fast paced system,” Kent said. “We feel like with the four young men that committed to us, all of them fit our style of play.

"They all can score the basketball, they all have a really high basketball IQ on the floor, particularly in quick-thinking situations where they have to make split decisions in transition. Their skill set is very good and we’re very comfortable with the group we picked up.”

OF THE FOUR SIGNEES, three will be making it to campus next season. As reported earlier by, Kent confirmed that Bountiful, Utah, power forward Jeff Pollard (6-9, 220) will follow in his older brother’s footsteps by going to Impact Academy in Las Vegas, Nev., next season for prep school. It's a move being made purely for basketball development.

Pollard's older brother, Nate, did the same thing after high school before joining Rice University this season.

“His family did that (prep school) with his older brother and it benefitted him,” Kent said. “He’ll go to Impact Academy in Las Vegas, which has a strong basketball and academic environment.

“He (Pollard) is a 4.0 student, who doesn’t need the academic part of it. I think his game is rapidly improving. I’m not going to count him out for next year yet, but as of right now, we’ll let him finish up his senior season and then go to prep school before coming here.”

WITH DaVonte Lacy graduating after this season, the Cougs have a whole lot of points to replace. Kent said one of his signees certainly has the ability to do just that, in his first year, next season at Wazzu.

“We felt like one of the biggest things we needed to do was replace DaVonté Lacy and his ability to score the ball," Kent said. "Renard Suggs can do that. He’s a prolific shooter, shoots it deep, and has a really good understanding of the game. He plays in a system that is even faster than what we play right now at Washington State, but we hope to get there.

“Renard is a complete all-around player. You can take away his three-point shot and he’ll put it on the floor and get by you. He’s very athletic. He can dunk or finish at the rim and he has an excellent mid-range shot.”

Suggs, a 6-3, 200-pound guard out of Gillette College in Wyoming, wasn’t the only junior college prospect to ink with Washington State. Derrien King (6-7, 175-pounds), from Santa Monica Community College, also put the pen to paper on Wednesday.

“Derrien King is very athletic,” Kent said. “Similar to Dexter (Kernich-Drew) when he got here. He needs to put on some weight, but he has a very high basketball IQ.

“Derrien and Renard can play either the 1,2, or 3. With Derrien, he could even play the 4 sometimes because of his size. We have guys who aren’t limited and are willing to play more positions, which was a vocal point, along with length and skill set. In Derrien’s case it depends on matchup.”

THE FOURTH MEMBER of the class of 2015 is in-state forward Robert Franks, out of Vancouver, Wash. Franks is the highest ranked member of the group by at three stars. He too is a strong scorer, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds for Evergreen High last season.

“Robert Franks is a skilled four man that is strong,” Kent said. “He can score inside, outside and is a very good passer. He has a tremendous feel for the game. He would be a tough matchup for people to have to guard because of his ability to put it on the floor almost with point guard skills, with that kind of size and his ability to score.”

Franks is 6-7, 175. Of the four signees, three are over 6-7, which was by design.

“We wanted to get more length,” Kent said. “Our sights are set on the best teams in this conference. We want our program to reach that ability. It was length and skill set that we were looking for. In our system, you have the green light. As a coach I want to feel like the ball is going in like they do.”

KENT ADDED THAT it was a total team effort among his staff, with assistants Silvey Dominguez, Greg Graham and Curtis Allen playing big roles to help land the prospects. The city of Pullman also deserves a big assist, Kent added.

“We utilized all the contacts our staff had to open doors and avenues,” Kent said. “We took this as an opportunity to reeducate people on what we accomplished at Oregon. The third piece, we showed them Washington State. The players and parents met with President Floyd and our Athletic Director Bill Moos.

“It was an impressive package and parents told us, ‘We never realized how much Washington State had here.’ We educated people around the country in terms of basketball prospects and let them know about WSU and what we do academically here.

“All four of these young men are high character people. They did a tremendous job when they were on campus. Whether it was during a summer camp or an official visit, we were able to sit down with them and their parents. We feel good about the group coming in. All of them came here and really enjoyed the campus and really enjoyed the community.”

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