WSU basketball notebook: men's & women's

PULLMAN -- High expectations from fans and media have surrounded Washington State fourth-year junior Que Johnson since he signed with WSU out of Westwind Academy. While his production has been uneven (6.1 points and 18 minutes per game last season, 9.5 points and 23.5 minutes the year prior), that hasn't stopped belief in his potential.

Jon Rothstein, a national basketball analyst with CBS Sports, tweeted in July that he thinks Johnson will be one of five breakout players in the Pac-12 this season alongside Brekkott Chapman of Utah, Thomas Welsh UCLA, Michael Humphrey of Stanford and Dominique Collier of Colorado.

And former USC and Arizona coach and current Pac-12 Networks analyst Kevin O'Neill told in June he's "a big believer" in Johnson's ability. He said he thinks the 6-5, 208-pound shooting guard could develop into a scorer close to the likes of DaVonte Lacy.

Johnson said Monday at WSU's media and picture day that his off-season focus has been on bringing more energy to practices and games.

"Last year I felt like I didn't have the energy Coach Kent wanted me to have," Johnson said.

Kent told CF.C last week that Johnson comes into this season stronger than last season and that he believes the influx of new guards on the team has helped motivate the Pontiac, Mich., native. Johnson said he enters the campaign with greater confidence and saluted Kent for helping fuel it.

AT THE FOUR-DAY ATHLETES IN ACTION "captain's camp" that new Cougar team captains Junior Longrus, Ike Iroegbu and Josh Hawkinson attended in Ohio over the summer, one of the guest instructors was Aaron Craft, the former Ohio State guard widely considered the most hated player in the Big Ten during his highly intense college playing days.

"He came down and spent some time with us and played with us, which was really fun. Got some tips from him," Iroegbu said Monday at WSU's media and picture day. Asked if Craft is as intense off the court as he is on it, Iroegbu smiled and said, "He's intense all the time, but he's a cool guy."

Craft, who was known for his charge-taking and ball-diving more than his offensive prowess, was named the NBA D-League's Defensive Player of the Year last season.

ON THE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL FRONT, coach June Daugherty and her staff look to be putting together an intriguing group of athletes for the 2016 class, which can start faxing in letters of intent just a few weeks from now, during the Nov. 11-18 early signing period.

The latest verbal for the CouGals is 6-0 Kayla Washington of San Bernardino, Calif. As we noted in the Cougar Blog yesterday, her recruitment ranks among the great whirlwinds -- it started and ended over the course of this past weekend at an NCAA viewing tournament at Chaffey College near San Bernardino. Washington has been a scoring and rebounding stat monster at Cajon High over the last three years and earned a host of MVP and player of the year honors last season. She plays center but projects as a college forward.

She becomes the fourth-known verbal in WSU's 2016 class -- meaning that if all the verbals hold, Daugherty's class is full. The others are 5-11 guard Katie Campbell of Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif.; 5-6 point guard Chanelle Molina of Konawaena High in Kealakekua, Hawaii; and 5-10 shooting guard Cameron Fernandez of Lahainaluna High in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Molina and Fernandez are rated the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in Hawaii for the 2016 recruiting cycle. Molina's prep coach is Bobbie Awa, the mother of starting WSU point guard Dawnyelle Awa.


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