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Hironaka’s role switches with WSU basketball

Jeff Hironaka, right, won’t be on the sideline with WSU head coach Ken Bone next season. (File)
Jeff Hironaka, right, won’t be on the sideline with WSU head coach Ken Bone next season. (File)

PULLMAN – Ken Bone’s desire for a wider recruiting reach means a position change for one of Washington State’s basketball coaches.

Jeff Hironaka, who served as an assistant under Bone the past three seasons, will now take on the role of director of player personnel/special assistant to the head coach. In his place, Bone will hire a new assistant coach, ideally someone with the ability to recruit in areas in which the current staff typically hasn’t.

Hironaka fills the position left vacant by Jared Barrett, the team’s former coordinator of basketball operations who left earlier this offseason for an assistant coaching job with Southern Utah.

Bone said he hopes to hire a new assistant coach in the next week or two, someone who “can give us strength in being a little more widespread recruiting-wise, maybe someone who has contacts in different parts of the country that none of us have.

“Jeff’s really valuable. He and I have worked together for a long time. He’s extremely valuable. But for the betterment of the program, I think it’s a good move to make.”

Hironaka, 55, was an assistant to Bone for 11 seasons at Seattle Pacific and replaced him as the head coach from 2002 through 2009. He rejoined Bone at WSU in 2009. He’s developed a reputation as a stellar game-planner from an X-and-O perspective, and that’s something he’ll continue to do, Bone said.

The main changes are that Hironaka will no longer be involved in off-campus recruiting – he previously served as the team’s recruiting coordinator – and he won’t be able to give on-court instruction during games.

Hironaka will still be the team’s lead scout during game weeks, and will still scout recruits and participate in on-campus recruiting. As of now, Bone said, Hironaka’s salary remains the same.

It’s a bit of a surprising move, given Hironaka’s history and ascension through the coaching ranks. Bone said he’s not sure if the new position will impact his ability to retain the veteran coach, who may want to pursue head coaching opportunities in the future and could find it difficult to land a new job without holding the title of assistant coach.

“I hope he stays here, selfishly,” Bone said. “He’s a great piece. He adds a lot to our staff, but you never know. He might do it for a year or two and think, ‘Hey, I’d rather get out and recruit some more.’

“He accepts the role. Just like players sometimes get moved to a different position, they might rather have one role than the other, but hopefully they accept it. In Jeff’s case, he’s been around for a while and I think he recognizes that we need to be able to network in other areas of the country. So I think he’s ready to go in a new position and he’ll do a great job.”

Hironaka declined comment through a team spokesman.

Peters won’t play

Bone confirmed to The Spokesman-Review that 2012 signee Richard Peters, a 6-foot-10 center out of Westwind Academy in Phoenix, did not qualify academically and will not play for WSU this season. Bone said Peters plans to play for a junior college, and that WSU coaches will stay in touch with him. It’s still possible Peters could wind up in Pullman in the future.

“We think he can be a good player at this level,” Bone said.

The Cougars recently signed transfer centers Jordan Railey (Iowa State) and James Hunter (Gillette College, Wyo.) to round out this year’s recruiting class, though 6-5 guard Demarquise Johnson, a teammate of Peters’ at Westwind, is still trying to qualify.

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