Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 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.
The Washington State Cougars have yet to make the NCAA Tournament during Ken Bone’s three years as head coach and that stretch will likely extend another year as Wazzu loses four key contributors from a year ago.
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS
Last Season: T-8th, 7-11 in Pac-10, 19-18 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 9th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Brock Motum (Sr)/James Hunter (So)
PF: D.J. Shelton (Jr)/Richard Longrus (Fr)
G/F: Mike Ladd (Sr)/Dexter Kernich-Drew (So)/Brett Boese (Fr)
SG: Davonte Lacy (So)/Royce Woolridge (So)/Will DiIorio (So)
PG: Reggie Moore (Sr)
Gone: F-Abe Lodwick, G-Marcus Capers, SG-Faisal Aden, F/C-Charlie Enquist, PF-Patrick Simon (transfer-Seattle Pacific)
Brock Motum had a breakout junior season for the Cougs, more than doubling his scoring and rebounding averages en route to earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors while being named the conference’s Most Improved Player. His inside/outside ability really shined through last season and it will be intriguing to see if he can be even more effective in his senior year.
Motum will likely be joined in the starting frontcourt by D.J. Shelton who was a key reserve a year ago after transferring in from a junior college and brings more a defensive presence inside. After that, there is not a whole lot of depth up-front though as Australia native and JUCO transfer James Watson is the team’s lone post reserve. Freshman Richard Longrus is more of a small forward but will likely have to play some four due to a lack of depth up-front.
Bone will get a boost up-front next year from Iowa State transfer Jordan Railey. The 6-10, 264 pounder must sit out this season per NCAA rules but will add some physicality and strength inside beginning in 2013-14.
With Reggie Moore and Davonte Lacy back in the fold, Wazzu does return some skill in their backcourt. Moore has been a very solid player during his tenure at Pullman especially with his playmaking ability while Lacy had a productive freshman year specifically as a scorer. Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge also becomes eligible and will add some versatility at guard. He could see some minutes at the one since the Cougars don’t have a true backup point guard to Moore.
Shooting guard Que Johnson was considered the top team’s top recruit and expected to make an immediate impact, but was deemed a partial qualifier by the NCAA and will be ineligible for upcoming season. That leaves seldom used sophomores Dexter Kenrich-Drew and Will DiIorio as the only other options at guard.
Former Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd figures to be the fifth starter after being a key cog off the bench last year. He battled some injury which held him out of 11 games in his first season with the Cougars and will be relied on more as an offensive threat this year. Longrus and fellow freshman Brett Boese will compete for minutes at the three behind Ladd.
Despite the fact the Pac-12 will once again be the weakest of the power six conferences, Washington State doesn’t possess the firepower to be a real threat. Pullman isn’t an easy place to build a winning basketball team but one has to wonder how long the university’s administration is going allow Bone to keep control a mediocre program that has shown any signs of really turning the corner to become a tourney contender.
Player to Watch: Reggie Moore
Moore burst onto the scene with an outstanding freshman campaign but was unable really build off it partially due to the arrival of JUCO transfer Faisal Aden two years ago. With Aden and Marcus Capers finishing off their collegiate careers, Moore will carry more of a load this season even though Lacy returns and Wooldridge joins the fray. One way he can help Wazzu exceed expectations; improve his field goal percentage which has been just 36% the past two seasons.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Kansas (CBE Classic)
11/20 vs. St. Louis/Texas A&M (CBE Classic)
12/5 vs. Gonzaga
12/9 vs. Fresno State
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
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. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.