Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
After a last place finish in the Pac-12, Washington State Cougars head coach Ken Bone enters this season on the hot seat. Wazzu has yet to finish with an above five hundred conference record during his four-year tenure and will be hard pressed to do so this year.
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS
Last Season: T-11th, 4-14 in Pac-10, 13-19 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 9th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: D.J. Shelton (Sr)/Jordan Railey (Jr)
PF: Junior Longrus (So)/James Hunter (So)/Josh Hawkinson (Fr)
G/F: Que Johnson (Fr)/Dexter Kernich-Drew (Jr)/Brett Boese (So)
SG: Davonte Lacy (Jr)/Will DiIorio (Sr)/Dominic Ballard (So)
PG: Royce Woolridge (Jr)/Danny Lawhorn (Jr)/Ikenna Iroegbu (Fr)
Gone: F/C-Brock Motum, G/F-Mike Ladd
The strength of this year’s Washington State Cougars team will be the backcourt with returning starters Royce Woolridge and Davonte Lacy back in the fold. Woolridge made a solid impact in his first year with the Cougars after transferring in from Kansas. Both guys are capable of handling the rock and can shoot it from deep.
The x-factor for Bone will be wing Que Johnson who didn’t play last season because he was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Johnson was the prize of the Wazzu’s 2012 recruiting class and should make an immediate impact due to his ability to score the rock.
Depth was an issue last season but Bone should be able to go deeper on his bench this year. Dexter Kernich-Drew will serve as the team’s sixth man with Will Dilorio also returning from a year ago. Junior college transfer Danny Lawhorn is a true distributor who adds some needed playmaking at the point guard position. Freshman Ikenna Iroegbu figures to be the odd man out of the rotation.
The major question mark for the Washington State Cougars comes inside where the team must replace All-Conference forward Brock Motum. D.J. Shelton does return to provide some size and physicality inside but is limited as an offensive threat. After that, minutes are up for grab with sophomores Junior Longrus, Brett Boese, and James Hunter gunning for increased court time. Iowa State transfer Jordan Railey is another big body inside who will take up space in the middle while Josh Hawkinson guns for minutes as a true freshmen.
With the lack of experience inside, Wazzu could turn to a frequent four guard line-up of Woolridge, Lacy, Johnson, and Kernich-Drew with Shelton manning the middle. Whatever the case, Bone has his hands full in trying to dig the team from the bottom and break into the middle of conference pack since there are several Pac-12 teams who enter the year as “bubble tourney teams.”
Player to Watch: Que Johnson
I’m in no ways meaning to compare Johnson’s ability to Ben McLemore, but he could have a “McLemore” type impact for the Cougs. Like the former Kansas shooting guard, Johnson had to sit out his first season but practiced with Wazzu last year. With the eligibility issues behind him, Johnson could be a big-time scorer for the Cougars and will need to be something special for Washington State to surprise in the Pac-12 and help Bone keep his job.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/21 at Gonzaga
11/24 vs. TCU
11/28 vs. Butler (Old Spice Classic)
11/29 vs. Oklahoma State/Purdue (Old Spice Classic)
11/29 vs. Memphis/Siena/LSU/St. Joseph’s (Old Spice Classic)
12/21 vs. UTEP
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks