PULLMAN – If it was difficult for guard Marcus Capers to fathom that he’d be the only member of his freshman class to play four full seasons of basketball at Washington State, imagine what it was like for forwards Charlie Enquist and Abe Lodwick.
Capers saw the six players with whom he entered school depart early, for one reason or another. But Enquist and Lodwick, each fifth-year seniors who, along with Capers, will play their final regular-season game at Beasley Coliseum against Washington Saturday night at 5, have seen even more during their time as Cougars.
“With all the guys coming in, for us three to be in this program this long, I never would have picked that out if someone asked me four or five years ago, ‘Who do you think will be here in the end?’” said Enquist, an Edmonds, Wash., native. “But I’m glad that the three of us made it all the way through with the coaching change and through some adversity and through all the guys transferring.”
About that adversity – the fourth member of this senior class, junior college transfer Faisal Aden, was scheduled to undergo surgery Friday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
So, yes. WSU’s four seniors have been through enough twists and turns here to fill an M. Night Shymalan screenplay. Lodwick and Enquist were redshirting during the Cougars’ last NCAA tournament appearance in 2008 and were part of two NIT appearances. Capers, a native of Winter Haven, Fla., played just one season under Tony Bennett, the coach who recruited him, before Bennett left for Virginia and WSU hired Ken Bone to replace him.
“It was definitely a really formative time for me in my career,” Lodwick said of the time between coaches. “It kind of helped set me up for what kind of player I was going to be like from there on out. I think that’s definitely been one of the things that has shaped my career as a player, for sure.”
That transition was a bit tougher for Capers than for Lodwick and Enquist, both of whom had been recruited by Bone while he was still coaching at Portland State. Capers said he feared initially that Bone wouldn’t have a use for him, but wound up a mainstay in WSU’s starting lineup – barring the unforeseen, he’ll make his 100th career start tonight.
He wouldn’t have made any had Taylor Rochestie not given up his scholarship to allow Capers to come aboard.
“When Taylor called me and told me he was going to give me his scholarship, his exact quote was: ‘I don’t necessarily know how you’re going to play here, but Tony and the coaching staff got a lot of confidence in you. So if they do, I do,’” Capers said.
“If Taylor didn’t give me that phone call, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Several others from that class are sitting elsewhere. Klay Thompson left for the NBA. DeAngelo Casto left to play ball in Turkey. Mike Harthun, James Watson, Nick Witherill and walk-on John Allen all transferred. Two players from Enquist and Lodwick’s class departed early, too – a back injury ended the career of Fabian Boeke, and Stephen Sauls chose to transfer.
None of WSU’s seniors has been statistically impressive, save for Aden, who was the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.5 points per game before his career-ending knee injury on Jan. 28. Lodwick has scored three points per game during his career. Enquist, who was awarded a scholarship following the 2009 season, has career averages of 1.9 points and two rebounds. Capers, a defensive-minded guard, averages a shade less than five points per contest.
Despite his limited offensive contributions, Capers has become a household name among Cougars fans. Lodwick and Enquist were valuable pieces for Bone after he took over.
Bone described the two friends as “exactly what any coach would want from a player. They’re the epitome of a student-athlete, which we all want, we all need. Those two kids are great kids, great students and they’ve contributed a lot on the basketball court.”
Lodwick, a Bend, Ore., product, seems poised to pursue a career overseas, but he’s also contemplating law school. Enquist is preparing to take the MCAT exam before applying to medical schools – he has a degree in engineering – where he might study pediatrics, or oncology, or maybe become a surgeon. Capers wants to keep playing ball somewhere, but could see himself working with kids.
Aden, a basketball vagabond who was born in Somalia, attended two high schools in Texas and played JC ball for two years in Florida, declined to be interviewed for this story. Capers said he’s seen a different side of his teammate since his injury.
“He’s been looking at it like, just like that, basketball can be taken away from you,” Capers said. “And a lot of us don’t look at it like that until something like that happens. I feel like he just appreciates what he’s done here and where he’s at as a person and as a man, and he just sees how much basketball has helped him out.”
It’s helped all of them.
“I know Charlie and I, we were never All-Americans coming out of high school,” Lodwick said. “We’ve had our ups and downs. There’s definitely been some really humbling moments in our careers for both of us, but there’s also been some great moments in our career where we’ve seen a lot of our hard work pay off. Charlie’s been real faithful to the program, doing the right things on and off the court. He got rewarded for it some this year, so I think it’s good to be able to say that we’ve been here the whole time together and it’ll be fun to go out together, too.”
“It was just the other day I was in Stevenson (residence hall) in the summer, and me and Klay were roommates,” Capers said. “Now it’s my last home game in Pullman. Four years go by real fast when you’re having fun, man.”