PULLMAN – The Washington State basketball roster will look considerably different after Ernie Kent’s first year in Pullman.
After signing guards Charles Callison and Viont’e Daniels to national letters of intent on Wednesday, Kent said he will be a significant step closer to getting the program where he wants it.
The Washington State coach said on Wednesday – the first day of the spring signing period – the five-member recruiting class will add skill to the roster that was missing during his first season in Pullman.
“I feel like we have a chance to be faster next year, we’ll be deeper and I feel really good about the direction we’re headed,” Kent said.
The Cougars have one more scholarship to offer and are actively recruiting post players. They remain open to the possibility of having a player transfer from another four-year school.
WSU signed four players in the fall – Derrien King, Jeff Pollard, Renard Suggs and Robert Franks – and the theme of that group was length and versatility. Wednesday’s signings added speed and, potentially, outside shooting.
Kent also noted that Jeff Pollard, a 6-foot-9 forward from Bountiful, Utah, who signed with the Cougars in November, will delay his enrollment by one year to continue developing at the Impact Academy in Las Vegas.
The scholarships became available to potentially sign six players in the same class because of the recent departures of freshmen guards Jackie Davis and Trevor Dunbar, as well as junior forward Aaron Cheatum. The three players that left were all members of Kent’s first recruiting class, which was hastily compiled after his hire late in March 2014.
“I feel like with Suggs and King, Callison and Daniels, we just got a lot faster and their skill set’s better,” Kent said. “Nothing against Trevor (Dunbar) or Jackie (Davis), but (them leaving) gave us a chance to get a little bit deeper, a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger.”
The Associated Press named Daniels the Washington 4A Player of the Year after leading Federal Way High School to a 27-2 overall record and state championship while averaging 24 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. While he was the Eagles’ third banana as a junior, he took on a starring role as the lone senior starter following a season-ending injury to teammate Malik Montoya.
“I don’t want to say he’s come out of nowhere, but I think he probably did shock the basketball world in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish this year,” Kent said. “What that tells you is he is somebody that’s on the rise and I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Callison was the Foothill Conference MVP after leading San Bernardino Junior College to a 29-2 record. Kent said he expects the 6-foot, 180-pound incoming junior to contribute immediately at point guard.
In addition to Callison, the Cougars signed a pair of junior college transfers in November, including Suggs, whom Kent has described as a prolific outside shooter, and 6-7 wing King, who will have three years of eligibility at WSU.
All three will be expected to contribute significantly on next year’s team.
“When you find a junior college player, they’ve got to be able to come in the door and help the program right away,” explained Kent. “Otherwise, there would be no point in going that route.”
Franks, another versatile 6-7 player, was named honorable mention all-state by the Seattle Times following his senior year at Evergreen High. While Kent cannot publicly comment on recruits until they have signed, reports indicate that 7-foot center Conor Clifford of Saddleback (California) Junior College will choose between WSU and the University of South Carolina.
A Twitter account that provides updates on Belgian youth basketball tweeted that 6-10 Belgian prospect Andy Van Vliet will take official visits to WSU, Utah, Miami and Saint Mary’s.
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