At least one man knew Josh Hawkinson would soar at WSU

STEVE KELLEY, the retired Seattle Times columnist who now spends winters as an assistant basketball coach at Roosevelt High, beams when he recalls an interview he did with in 2013. At the time, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Shorewood High and insisted that the team's gangly center -- who was recruited by no other major-conference schools -- would become a force in the Pac-12.

"I still think about that story," Kelley said with a huge smile earlier this season. "What did I tell you?"

This is exactly what he told us in 2013 about scrawny, 6-foot-10 Josh Hawkinson:

"I don't want to put pressure on him, but the sky is the limit. He's got the potential to be a big-time center in the Pac-12 … He has enough skills to be a major contributor at a BCS school. There's no doubt in my mind ... Don't expect 15 points and 8 rebounds a game from him as a freshman, but if he works hard I could see 20 points and 10 rebounds a game when he's as an upper-classman. If you have a pure point guard who can get him the ball in the right place, look out."

To read the full piece of forecasting, click here.

HERE, FOUR YEARS LATER, it's one heck of a read because Hawkinson lived up to the billing. When his Cougar career comes to a halt -- most likely in Las Vegas at the Pac-12 tourney later this month -- his name will be etched among the greats in WSU history.

Given how lightly he was recruited and how inconspicuous he was as a true freshman (6.4 minutes and 1.7 points per game) at WSU, his productivity has been nothing less than remarkable.

  • With 1,370 career points, Hawkinson ranks 12th on the all-time scoring list. He is 41 points away from entering the top 10.
  • At 54 and counting, Hawkinson just recently broke the school record for double-doubles, surpassing Steve Puidokas (1974-77). No active D-I player in all of college basketball has more double-doubles than Hawkinson.
  • He stands 11 rebounds shy of setting the all-time WSU career mark (992, Puidokas).
  • He is 18 rebounds away from becoming the 13th Pac-12 player to post 1,000 career boards.
  • With 93 blocks, he is one swat away from seventh all-time at WSU.

Again, the numbers take on new meaning when lending full weight to Hawkinson putting these numbers up in basically three seasons, while his fellow Cougs did so in four.

“You’re not going to find many players in the country who have the numbers that he has the last couple years,” Kent said after the win Sunday over UW.

Hawkinson has also excelled in the classroom at Washington State. The Business major was named Pac-12 first-team All-Academic last season. He was named earlier this month as one of 10 finalists for college hoops’ 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award, given to the player who excels in community, classroom, character and competition.

WASHINGTON STATE AND Hawkinson finish up the regular season on the road at the LA schools. First up is USC (21-8/8-8) and it’s a quick Wednesday turnaround after Sunday night’s win: WSU at Southern Cal (CORRECTION: 7 pm, Pac-12 Networks).  The Cougs play at UCLA on Saturday (7:15 pm, ESPN).

Expect the Trojans to come out focused -- they’re thought to be fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives on the heels of a four-game losing streak. predicts an 82-69 USC win.

But with a crimson victory, WSU (13-15/6-10) would match its Pac-12 win total (7) in Kent’s first season in 2014-15.  Washington State this season has already tied the mark for most wins (13) in Kent’s tenure on the Palouse.

Last time against USC, Hawkinson posted 17 points and 16 rebounds and Ike Iroegbu poured in 22 but Washington State’s defensive failures led to an 86-77 loss.  How so?  USC shot 57.1 percent from the floor, and 73.9 percent in the second half.  The Cougs actually held a 59-57 lead at the 10:17 mark of the second half but the Trojans scored at will from that point on. USC forward Chimezie Metu had a monster game, scoring 29 points on 12 of 14 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds.

On the bright side when it comes to D, WSU will enter the USC game coming off one of its better defensive performances. The Cougs held UW to 42.6 percent shooting Sunday in the win over the Huskies.

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