PULLMAN – This season’s Washington State men’s basketball roster is missing one word.
The Cougars have no seniors on their 16-man roster that will open the season Saturday night by hosting Southern University.
As a result, they may not be losing any of their 12 scholarship players.
And yet, on the first day of the NCAA’s early letter-of-intent signing period Wednesday, Washington State signed two high school seniors.
Davonte Lacy, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound combo guard from Tacoma’s Curtis High, and Greg Sequele, a 6-8, 225-pound forward who was born in France, lived in Mexico and is playing his high school basketball in Los Angeles, signed letters of intent and will join WSU in the fall.
Lacy, who WSU coach Ken Bone said he has watched for years, averaged 19.8 points, 7 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Vikings last season.
Last season at Ribet Aacademy, Sequele averaged 15 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals.
“There are times he could be a power forward because he’s big, strong and explosive, similar to how DeAngelo (Casto) was in high school,” Bone said of Sequele.
Not only did WSU sign the two, but Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd is redshirting this season as a walk-on and, as Bone said, “he’s in line for a scholarship.”
How, when men’s teams are limited to 13 scholarship players, can that happen?
It’s called oversigning. And it’s all the rage in college basketball. And it’s pretty new.
“I don’t think it happened as much 10 years ago,” Bone said.
But it happens much more often now. Just up the road Gonzaga announced the signing of four players with just one senior, guard Steven Gray, on the roster, though the Zags are not using two scholarships this fall.
The reasons behind oversigning are varied and numerous.
• The NCAA has narrowed the window colleges are allowed to recruit, forcing schools – and players – to make quicker decisions.
• High school players are committing earlier, deciding at an young age what school to attend. That means coaches are committing to players earlier as well, projecting how a 15-year-old player will mature.
“There are a lot of guys right now, in the (high school) class of 2012, they are 16-, 17-years old, they are making a decision how they will fit into a program three years from now,” Bone said.
• Coaches seem to be moving around more. A new coach oftentimes is looking for different skills than the old coach’s players provide.
“It just seems like a new coach comes in and he’s not pleased with some of the kids and they don’t fit his system,” Bone said, “or maybe the player doesn’t fit in as well as he thought he would when he was 16 or 17 making that decision.”
• More players are moving on, transferring to other schools or heading to the professional ranks either in the NBA or overseas.
Washington State lost five scholarship players off last year’s team, one senior (Nik Koprivica) and four underclassmen (Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown and James Watson). When Watson left in June, it was too late to replace his scholarship.
“You get burned by that one or two times and you kind of catch on and you cover your bases,” Bone said.
This year, junior Klay Thompson, recently named the Pac-10’s top player by Sports Illustrated, could be playing his last season in Pullman before moving on to the NBA.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” Bone said. “That has gone into the thought process of oversigning.
“We are hoping he has the type of year that he can leave. It would be great to see him go on and play in the NBA.”
No matter what, the Cougars will have the allowed number of scholarship players next year, Bone said.
“In the end, next year we will have 13 kids on scholarship,” he said. “It always works out. I would hope we could sneak by and get 14 or 15, but I’ve got the feeling the NCAA would catch us on that, so, when it’s all said and done, it will be 13.”