Hoops: Scoring machine goes crimson

THE WASHINGTON STATE men's basketball team led the Pac-10 and was 6th best in the nation for scoring defense in 2004-05 -- holding opponents to 56.9 points a game. Unfortunately, they were also last in the league in scoring. WSU looks to have addressed that need with Rodney Edgerson, who will arrive in Pullman later this year. CF.C talks to both player and coach and found out Edgerson puts plenty of crooked numbers up on the scoreboard, and will bring with him an intense desire to improve.

First and foremost, Rodney Edgerson (6-6, 195) will bring to the crimson table the ability to score, from long range as well as driving to the bucket. His court vision makes him especially tough to stop.

"He was one of our best passers," said Illinois Central College head man Tony Wysinger. "With the ability to get to the basket and his ability to pass the ball, it makes him very hard to guard."

Edgerson averaged 24.6 points a game this year for ICC, shooting 56 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the three point line. His freshman season, with four teammates in double figures, Edgerson still averaged 17.5 points a game and shot close to 60 percent from the field.

"He's a very unselfish player," said Wysinger. "This year, he shot more early on because we had some guys who didn't make it to the second portion of the year. But the thing is that even though he shot more, he still shot at that high percentage."

Edgerson chose Washington State over offers from Creighton and Wichita State. Late and heavy interest came in the form of Fresno State, Kent State and Illinois State. Also in the mix for Edgerson were Mississippi and Southern Miss. One of the reasons Edgerson verbally committed to WSU was because of Mark Vershaw.

"I just felt comfortable when I took the visit and coach Vershaw is now there," said Edgerson. "It was a little more than I was expecting. I knew it was the Pac-10 but (to really experience it), you've got to be there."

Vershaw played for Dick Bennett at Wisconsin, and was an assistant coach at ICC before joining Bennett at WSU in January. Vershaw is serving as team manager while working on his graduate degree at Washington State.

ALSO INFLUENCING EDGERSON'S decision, the smothering Cougar defense.

"I think one of the reasons Washington State was a draw for him was they do a great job of working team and individual defense," said Wysinger. "He knew that's something he needed to work on... and he knows coach Bennett will be able to pull that out of him."

"He's always heard that he's a darned good scorer. He told me recently, 'I want people to say I'm a good basketball player. Not just a good scorer.'"

Wysinger didn't want to go so far as to say Edgerson's next stop after Pullman is the NBA, but he does believe the Peoria, Ill., native has a future in professional basketball given his drive and abilities. He pointed out that the professional leagues are always, always looking for someone who can score.

"He wants to get better," emphasized Wysinger. "He has the potential to play the game professionally."

Wysinger said with his frame and work ethic, Edgerson will probably weigh in the 210-215 range by the time he winds up his career at WSU. He also said Washington State is a great fit for Edgerson -- being a big time program and the best place for him to develop his game into the total package. The first day Edgerson can officially sign with WSU is April 13, and he said he plans on doing just that.

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