Cougs take hit in post as Watson heads to JC

WASHINGTON STATE WAS already thin down on the blocks, but they just got a whole thinner. James Watson, an up-and-coming forward with a physical component to his game, has left Washington State due to academic ineligibility and transferred to a junior college in Kansas, his mom told CF.C today.

James Watson, regretfully, says mom Annette Watson, is now on the junior college path at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas.

"The only thing was academics, we loved everything about Washington State," said Annette. "Unfortunately, James was academically ineligible."

THE NEWS DOESN'T come entirely out of left field as Ken Bone told CF.C last month that Watson needed to go to summer school to remain eligible for the coming season.

Annette said that James was faced with a decision of not playing until January while trying to bring his grades up at WSU, or continuing his playing career elsewhere.

She also said James also told her he thought it was going to be very hard to motivate himself while being unable to play. Plus, one of his former high school teammates, Tyrus McGee, was at Cowley. And that made a hard decision at least a little bit easier.

"There was nothing he could have done in the summer to make it up (before fall) so he was going to have to sit out until January. Another door opened, and we had a very short time to decide what to do. It was really a tough decision," said Annette.

Annette said that it was a calculated risk to have James go to Washington State in the first place. Before he was adopted by the Watsons, he was on a carousel through the foster care system and changed schools continually, which made succeeding in class that much more difficult. Here's a link with more: WSU's Watson: A Blind Side-type story himself.

"He never got that academic foundation," Annette said. "But we had hoped that with all the academic support at Washington State it would work out okay... But he's going to have a chance to get his Associate's degree, which has always been important to me."

And after James gets his AA degree, would the Watson family consider him coming back to WSU if the Cougars were interested in having him return?

"Oh, definitely! If that were to even be an option for us, we would love to come home to Washington State. We love Washington State, they have been nothing but great to us. We will always be Cougars," said Annette.

Watson played in 29 games as a freshman, averaging 7.1 minutes. He grabbed 53 rebounds and blocked nine shots.

WASHINGTON STATE THIS recruiting class numbers four, but is guard-heavy -- Dexter Kernich-Drew, a 6-6, 180-pound guard out of Melbourne, Australia; F Patrick Simon (6-9, 205, Ephrata/Ephrata High), G Andre Winston, Jr. (6-1, 160, Lakewood/Lakes HS) and G Faisal Aden (6-4, 185, San Diego, Calif./Hillsborough CC) are in the fold.

While Simon is 6-9, he is a shooter, and not a banger.

As for big men, the Cougs return only one true, proven physical presence in the post -- DeAngelo Casto.

Forward Brock Motum is in line to see his minutes increase but his game is more about shooting and driving to the hoop than face-to-the basket.

Charlie Enquist has shown flashes this past season but the latter part opf his campaign was ruined by injuries. He looks to be 100 percent this season and could provide a solid, and much needed boost, to the Cougar post. Also in the wings, Steven Bjornstad, a big bodied sophomore-to-be, saw just a handful of minutes last season.

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