Bone eyes PSU in Kennewick; baseball pro news

WASHINGTON STATE HAS scheduled a "home" basketball game with Portland State on Dec. 19 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. The Saturday night game will be held when Pullman is typically fairly deserted after the students travel home during the Christmas break.

New Cougar coach Ken Bone guided Portland State to 23-10 records and NCAA tournament appearances the past two seasons. The Vikings lost some talented seniors this past year. Tickets have yet to go on sale for the non-conference matchup.

Former Cougar coach Dick Bennett often expressed interest in playing off campus in the Tri-Cities and other locations during holiday breaks when the student body heads home.

And WSU baseball coach Donnie Marbut said he plans to bring a non-league game with Washington to the Tri-Cities late next season.

-- Princely supper: Jared Prince was drafted lower than he expected, and he knew his signing bonus was going to be minimal. Prince, a four-year starter in right field at Washington State, signed with the Rangers over dinner Monday night.

"I got a great streak and a great opportunity," said Prince.

Prince will also start out in short-season Class A, but in Spokane in the Northwest League. A 34th-round draft pick, Prince became the second of WSU's five drafted players to sign. Senior pitcher Matt Way, Philadelphia's fifth-round selection, signed earlier and is headed to Williamsport, Pa., in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.

"It feels good … I'm excited to get started," Way said.

Alex Burg, the third drafted senior from WSU, said he expects to sign with San Francisco on Wednesday. Burg was drafted in the 24th round as a catcher, but said he's prepared to play anywhere and everywhere, just as he did for the Cougars.

Burg said the Giants have assigned him to Scottsdale, Ariz., in the Rookie-class Arizona League, but plan to move him up to Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League once his left knee is healthy. Burg did not play until the final week of WSU's season after suffering a severe knee sprain in a baserunning collision April 25 at USC.

"I'm ready to play," Burg said. "I feel pretty good. I'm about 90 percent right now."

Relief pitchers Jeremy Johnson (13th round, Cleveland) and Seth Harvey (43rd round, Los Angeles Angels) have yet to sign.

Johnson said the Indians "came in pretty low" with their signing offer, and he hasn't ruled out returning to WSU for his senior season and attending grad school. He already has a finance degree.

-- Dillon busy: Former Cougar wide receiver Charles Dillon scored four touchdowns -- three receiving and one rushing -- Saturday in the Spokane Shock's 88-27 rout of Stockton in the arenafootball2 league.

The 88 points and 61-point margin of victory are club records. The Shock is 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in af2. Dillon has caught 51 passes for 646 yards and 15 touchdowns in nine games.

-- Gran picked: Ex-Cougar third baseman Paul Gran has been named the starting third baseman for the Northern Division in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game next Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va.

Gran is batting .250 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 57 games with the Class A Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers. He was hitting .272 before going 0-for-17 the past four games.

Gran started at third base in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game last season after being drafted in the seventh round by the Florida Marlins.

-- Recruiting wars: Paul Wulff and most of his coaching staff came to Washington State from Eastern Washington with sterling reputations as recruiters. They've done little to damage that reputation heading into their second year with the Cougars.

CF.C broke the story Monday on the latest recruit to make a verbal commitment to WSU for 2010 -- Oakland cornerback Damante Horton. His high school coach raves about Horton's skill, character and classwork, and he was an all-league first-team pick on offense and defense last season. Horton returned five interceptions for touchdowns in '08 and had 12 other scholarship offers including two from the Pac-10 in WSU and Arizona State.

He has not, however, been evaluated by and therefore shows up as a one star prospect. (Some prospects showing as 2-stars also have not yet been evaluated but have verbally committed to a school).

Horton is WSU's fifth known verbal commitment, letters of intent can't be signed until February.

-- In print: Bob Condotta wrote another in a series of Seattle Times articles on WSU and UW athletic finances . John Blanchette wrote a great piece on former WSU defensive end Russell Miller, a college law professor and Fulbright Scholar. Tom Hansen, retiring after 26 years as commissioner of the Pac-10, engaged in a question-and-answer session with Chris Dufresne of The Los Angeles Times.

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