Daugherty eyes next class, helps youngsters

WASHINGTON STATE basketball coach June Daugherty is a woman on the move. On Monday and Tuesday she conducted six youth clinics in the Seattle area. On Sunday she was entertaining family members from Ohio. And last month she was on the road. A lot. Hard telling how many air miles the second-year Cougar boss and her staff logged during the July evaluation period, but it was a ton.

"I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but that would be a fun number to come up with," Daugherty said this week between the series of youth clinics she worked in the Seattle area.

During the July evaluation period -- 20 days in which college coaches can attend AAU tournaments and the like to assess potential recruits -- Daughterty and her staff scouted 1,000 teams. That equates to 12,000 players.


Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Phoenix Los Angeles and Las Vegas were some of the stops in the U.S., while Australia was a focus overseas.

Daugherty of course can't name names during the recruiting process, but said she's pleased with the way the talent wars are shaping up so far and looks to secure a second consecutive outstanding Cougar class. She has four scholarships available for the 2009 crop. Letters of intent can be signed in November.

One of the Cougars' four scholies already is accounted for in 5-10 wing Ireti Amojo, who verbally committed to WSU earlier this year. She hails from Germany, but is no stranger to the state of Washington, having played as an exchange student two years ago at Auburn-Riverside with Katie Grad.


Daugherty's first class of recruits, which includes Grad, has been widely rated one of the best in the land.

All seven of those players have been in Pullman since June, going to summer school. Each has already earned seven college credits and from the looks of that coursework, all her young troops are excellent students, Daugherty said.

As for the newcomers' work on the hardwood, Daugherty said Monday at the conclusion of an 11-hour day of youth clinics, the Cougar faithful have never seen this type of speed and athleticism. Indeed, April Cook, a 5-8 guard from Long Beach, can touch the rim.

Jasmine Williams, a WSU sophomore guard from Kent, was asked Tuesday to name the freshman she expects to make the biggest splash this season.

"Too hard to say -- they're all really good," she said.

What those youngsters can do on the court, coupled with the way they'll push the veterans, has Daugherty thinking major turnaround this season. "I'm really looking forward to getting the fans behind us, getting that home-court advantage," she said. Daugherty has been telling everyone in the Bohler Complex to get ready, because the sports world is going to start paying big-time attention when they see how far the Cougs have come.

Daugherty was in Seattle this week, along with assistant coach Mo Hines, Cougar players Williams, Ebonee Coates and Lexie Price and men's standout Aron Baynes, helping local youngsters improve their skills at clinics in Tukwila, Renton and Seattle.

Asked about the speed of their new freshmen teammates, Williams, Coates and Price all smiled and noted that one of the Cougars' biggest weaknesses last year -– breaking the full-court press –- won't be an issue this season.

There's another piece to the crimson puzzle that should make last season and this look like night and day. Coates, a fifth-year senior post player from Tacoma, is healthy. A series of injuries foiled her work last year. She can score and rebound.

As for the clinics this week, Daugherty & Crew imparted their insights on more than 160 grade schoolers during two days of workouts at the three sites. Daugherty, a cardiac arrest survivor, was the guest coach of the Hope Heart Institute, a renowned non-profit organization in Bellevue that is on the forefront of the fight against heart disease, the No. 1 killer in America.

HHI's camps were aimed at leveraging a fun environment – the basketball court – to teach kids about the importance of proper nutrition and fitness. Getting kids on the right path, making choices that will benefit them for a lifetime, is key to winning the nation's fight against heart disease.

Two of Daugherty's former Husky players, Kayla Burt and Seattle Storm guard Kristen O"Neill, joined the crimson side to help out. Like Daugherty, Burt is a cardiac arrest survivor.


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