Roberto Gittens

Tacoma wing Roberto Gittens Jr. is first 4-star to sign with WSU since Klay Thompson

WITH FAMILY, friends, teammates, coaches and Foss High faculty looking on, one of the nation's top wing prospects -- Tacoma's 6-foot-5, 215-pound Roberto Gittens Jr. -- moments ago signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Washington State. In doing so, he joins elite company. Besides Gittens, WSU has signed only one other 4-star prospect in the last 20 years -- a guy by the name of Klay Thompson.

Gittens also is the third-straight homegrown Player of the Year signed by Cougar coach Ernie Kent, following on the heels of Tacoma's Malachi Flynn last year and Federal Way's Viont’e Daniels the year prior.

Add in touted Los Angeles product Milan Mcquaah, who redshirted this past season, and the Cougars have a corps of guard/wing types to carry them for three-years-plus.

Scout.com ranks Gittens among the top 30 shooting forwards in the nation and No. 9 in the West. He averaged 22 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2 blocks this season as he led Foss to the Class 2A state title. He was named WIAA and Associated Press Class 2A Player of the Year, and the Tacoma News Tribune named him the All-Area Player of the Year. Wrote the TNT in this feature on him:

Foss High School basketball coach Mike Cocke’ is the first to emphasize just how far Gittens has come — from that “hothead” of a player his first two years to a can’t-miss standout for the top-ranked Falcons ... He’s dunked 79 times this season. And none have been cheap ... Cocke’ put Gittens next to Foss graduate Ar’Mond Davis, who now plays at Alabama, as the two best dunkers he’s seen ... Gittens still stomps his feet and beats his chest after a rim-rocking dunk. But that’s who Gittens is. He’s looking for the poster moment — whatever he can use to add gasoline to his inner fire.

In fact, Gittens is so proficient with the slam that he beat UW's Markelle Fultz -- projected as one of the first picks in the upcoming NBA draft -- in the dunk contest at the 2015-15 Les Schwab Invitational.

Long and athletic with a sturdy upper body, Gittens is a versatile scorer who can create his own shot and drill from downtown.



He's developed a mid-range jumper and can run, providing matchup problems on the perimeter. Scout.com analysts Josh Gershon noted he's one of the top scorers on the West Coast this recruiting cycle:

"What you really like about Gittens is his scoring ability. His jumper has made big strides and he can now consistently create his own shot. (He is) a strong wing with wide shoulders, long arms, plus athleticism, the ability to score from all three levels who can also rebound and pass."


Gittens verbally committed to Boise State last fall and then reopened matters several weeks ago. WSU offered him and he tripped to Pullman April 15-17, telling CF.C afterward that, "The campus, the guys, the coaching staff were all really good. I know most of those guys so it was fun."

Gittens also held offers from Colorado State, Montana and Hofstra (where his dad Roberto Sr. played for Jay Wright) and was seeing increasing interest from Oregon, Utah and Texas.

With the signing of Gittens, Kent now has three members in his 2017 recruiting class. The others are Tyler (Texas) JC transfers Kwinton Hinson (6-4 shooting guard) and Davante Cooper (6-11 center). Two more spots are available. Look for the Cougars to put a priority on filling one of them with a back-to-the-basket big man. The other slot might go to a big man who can shoot inside and out, or the Cougars could bank it for the 2018 recruiting cycle.

NOTABLE:

* Gittens originally is from Long Island, NY. He moved to Tacoma in fifth grade, and then back to Long Island for a time before he and his mom settled in Tacoma.

* Gittens is the third-straight Tacoma News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year the Cougars have landed, but get this -- a guy who was key in recruiting those three guys, assistant coach Curtis Allen, was himself the TNT's All-Area PoY back in 2000.

* The "hothead" comment in the TNT article is a reference to Gittens' troubles channeling his fiery competitiveness early in high school -- something that no doubt slowed his college recruitment. His coach, Cocke, told the TNT he booted the freshman Gittens off the team three times. Says Gittens of those up-and-down early years:

“I always felt people were after me,” Gittens told the TNT. “Like when refs would give bad calls, I would just snap. I used to be a hothead. That was my rap around Tacoma. ‘He can’t be coached. He’s a hothead. He’s always getting teased.’ But you can’t just let it out all over the place. Now I try to channel it in a different way.”

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