ROBERTO GITTENS (left) and FRED JONES

Ernie Kent: New Coug Roberto Gittens reminds me of Fred Jones

FOR COUGAR basketball fans with fading memories and those on the younger side of life, the name Fred Jones may not resonate. But for long-time aficionados of the Conference of Champions net wars, Jones was a shooting-dunking-running whirl of production on the first of the two Oregon Ducks teams Ernie Kent took to the Elite Eight. So when Kent says his newest Washington State recruit reminds him of Jones, you take notice.

No pressure, Roberto Gittens Jr. of Foss High in Tacoma, but you and Freddie are now tied at the hip.
 
Jones is an entrepreneur in the high-end sneaker business, but as a 6-foot-4 Duck senior in 2002 he averaged 18.6 points per game and was a contender for Pac-10 player of the year. He concluded his time in green as one of the school’s all-time scoring leaders and went on to become a first-round NBA draft pick, spending seven seasons in the league and winning the 2004 Slam Dunk title.
 
The similar size, the leaping and dunking skills, the all-purpose scoring ability, and the wheels to get up and down the court are why Gittens reminds Kent of Jones.
 
Here’s an interesting footnote on Jones that many people likely forget. He took some time to develop into the force of nature he became. So when Kent says Gittens reminds him of Jones, don’t expect 18 points per game this upcoming season.
 
Expect to see a young player on the rise – albeit a long and athletic 4-star prospect, but a youngster nonetheless.
 
“Roberto will develop and be special,” Kent told CF.C today after Gittens signed his national letter of intent with WSU. “He fits our system. Now, you take a young man who fits and provide him the teaching, coaching and mentoring and then, in time, you’ll see how he REALLY fits.”

Landing the one-time Boise State verbal was a team effort by the entire coaching staff, Kent said,

 Gittens, who is 6-5 and 215, will play wing at WSU.

“It’s going to be a joy to coach another Washington State Player of the Year,” Kent added in WSU's official announcement of the signing. “Roberto is a well-skilled athlete and a great teammate, who will fit well in our program. We’re excited for his career here at WSU and to see what he can accomplish along with his teammates.”
 
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. The Tacoma News Tribune named him the All-Area Player of the Year – marking the third-straight year a future Cougar was so named. Malachi Flynn was so honored last year and Vionte Daniels the year prior.
 
Kent has two remaining slots available in the 2017 class but the makeup of the team’s current roster pretty much dictates the addition of a back-to-the-basket big man and an inside/outside post player. WSU could also instead bank one of those scholies until the 2018 cycle.

RELATED: Kent signs WSU's first 4-star prospect since Klay Thompson


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