Ernie Kent's first weekly press conference of the year covers a lot of ground

PULLMAN – Ernie Kent thinks the Pac-12 media who voted the Cougs dead last in the media preseason poll are an uninformed group.

"I've been on the side of the media and I know how they pick and I've always said this for years: the media has no clue in terms of who you're bringing in to your program because they have not followed these players that we're bringing in the door," said Kent. "They have no clue as to what goes on during the summer because they're not in the weight rooms with you, they're not on the track running, they're not in the pick-up games.

"When I say no clue, they don't have a feel because they're not there so to come out with an expectation or prediction that we're going to be 12th..."

Kent effectively has six new Cougars on the roster: guard Charles Callison (6-0, 183); center Conor Clifford (7-0, 283); guard Viont'e Daniels (6-2, 163); forward Robert Franks (6-7, 250); center Valentine Izundu (6-10, 235) and forward Derrien King (6-6, 170).  Callison, Clifford and King are junior college transfers, Daniels and Franks are true freshmen and Izundu, a fourth-year junior, spent last season redshirting at WSU after transferring from Houston.

Izundu is a potential shot blocker supreme, but doing' expect a breakout season on par with what Josh Hawkinson accomplished last year, said Kent. Clifford, however, might be another story.

"He doesn't have the same offensive savvy as Josh," Kent said of Izundu. "But a Connor Clifford can certainly be one of those guys because he can score and he's a very productive big man. Valentine is more of a defensive stopper in the middle of the paint that's going to really cause problems for people to score around that basket.

"So when I made the comment about 'this is the best set of big guys I've had,' they just can do so much... Josh, we know what he can do. He's really good but I've got a couple of other guys that can kind of help predict where the game is going to go particularly on the defensive end, and in Connor's case he's just a productive big guy.”
Meanwhile, Kent said Que Johnson is moving up and down the floor better in Year Two of Kent's tenure in Pullman.

“Everybody seems to have more energy to me because they understand the system better and that's what I mean by; 'Que seems to have more energy,' because he understands the system better - which means he knows how to get out and run and go finish and attack the basket. And if he can continue to do those things I think he'll get more confidence."
Kent wasn't shy about saying where Hawkinson needs to improve.

"Defense -- he has to get better defensively, and to where he can stop an opposing team's four man," said Kent. "When people put him in ball screens and things, we can do a better job of helping him there but at the same time, one-on-one, he's got to get a lot better. He knows that he's worked on that extremely hard.

"And I'm hoping with the addition of the new players in the program we won't need Josh to play as many major minutes which should keep him fresher, which could keep him at a productivity level playing 99 percent versus dropping down to 60 or 70."


  • Kent said he impressed and pleased with how fast the newcomers are picking up the complexity of the offense.

  • Kent said he doesn't plan on redshirting anyone, and that Daniels and Frank are two to watch for.  "Viont'e is a tremendous shooter, plays with tremendous energy getting up and down the floor and I think there are going to be nights where we need his shooting. Robert is another big that is very, very skilled that can score inside, score outside... I think they can help us out the gate right now as (true) freshman just because their games are pretty good."

  • Kent says Ike Iroegbu has gotten "headier," saying the guard "plays with a lot more understanding of what we need out of him."

  • Kent plans to be at the football game against Stanford on Saturday. He believes the fall semester has been great for athletics as well as WSU in general, but made a point of saying that he’s most happy for Bill Moos and what Moos has built at WSU.

Cougfan Top Stories