Baynes and Cougar mates jump into the future

FOUR YEARS AGO, Aron Baynes left his native Australia in part because he wanted to see if he could develop into an NBA player while playing for Washington State. On Monday, fresh from a workout with the NBA's Houston Rockets, Baynes said he remains determined "to give myself every opportunity to play" in the NBA.

In the meantime, he'll settle for making a whole lot of cash in Lithuania if that's his best option.

Aron Baynes confirmed that he has signed a two-year contract with BC Lieutuvos Rytas. Baynes says his contract contains a clause that permits him to join an NBA team if he is given a guaranteed contract.

"This (Lithuanian) team is in the Euroleague," Baynes said. "It's good ball back there. It's the second-best league in the world."

Baynes, who has been training in the San Francisco area, has worked out for several NBA teams and has more planned.

The three other WSU veterans who graduated with Baynes in May are forging ahead with plans on and off the court.

Point guard Taylor Rochestie has been working out in Tempe, Ariz. He hopes to hook on with an NBA summer league team to strut his stuff for NBA teams or other pro teams.

"Anything can happen if you play well in the summer league," Rochestie said.

Caleb Forrest had no illusions about getting rich in pro basketball, but he hoped to play in a low-level pro league in Europe. On Monday, however, Forrest said he will follow his doctor's advice and pass up pro ball to lessen the strain on an ankle that he said will likely require several operations in the future.

"I'm looking forward to a normal job, a regular life," Forrest said.

On Tuesday, Forrest begins work as a painter in his hometown of Pagosa Springs, Colo. Forrest will be working for a company that is associated with his father's log buildings construction firm. Forrest said he hopes to join his father's company in the future.

Forrest married the former Alyssa Steele, a 2008 WSU graduate, on May 30 in Spokane. Former WSU teammates Daven Harmeling, Robbie Cowgill and Rochestie were on hand along with Cougar assistant coach Ben Johnson.

Harmeling has quickly established that he's willing to work just as hard in the "real world" as he did on the basketball court.

Harmeling is working three part-time jobs in Pullman, though he'll take a temporary "break" and head to Portland this weekend to work at basketball camps for a couple of weeks.

Harmeling is marketing director for the Airway Hills Driving Range and miniature golf course. He's also providing individual workouts for youths ("Basically, my dream job") and working as a waiter at Bishop Place Senior Living.

This fall, Harmeling will complete his degree requirements by student teaching at a high school yet to be determined in Vancouver, Wash.

He hopes to find coaching work in Vancouver, then plans to begin substitute teaching in January. Harmeling said he might return to Pullman at the semester break if he can help the Cougars in some capacity "even if I don't get paid a dime." He's also considering the possibility of joining former WSU assistant coach Matt Woodley in Des Moines, Iowa. Woodley is now head coach of a high school team.

"I feel he's got incredible knowledge of the game," Harmeling said.

Harmeling said he doesn't mind all the hard work he's putting in this summer, and he expressed gratitude for the five years of free education he received at WSU.

However, Harmeling said he feels "a little let down" when the school was unable to help him find scholarship money to help pay at least part of his student teaching bill. Harmeling excelled in the classroom at WSU and earned a great deal of respect from coaches and teammates for his unselfish play and attitude.

"I have to pay the school a little over four grand to go do another person's job for a semester," Harmeling said.

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