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Cougars Brett Boese, Junior Longrus get down to business

Cougars Brett Boese, left, and Junior Logrus, right, have teamed up on more than battling Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Cougars Brett Boese, left, and Junior Logrus, right, have teamed up on more than battling Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Brett Boese had all the information he needed to make his college choice. His uncles, Jim and Dave Meredith, played basketball at Washington State in the 1970s. He grew up in WSU’s athletic shadow and played at Spokane’s Shadle Park High School.

And, frankly, the Cougars were his only Pac-12 scholarship offer.

“Once they started recruiting me in high school, I knew I was going to come here,” Boese said.

But Boese recognizes that the choice coaches tell recruits is “the most important one you will ever make” is not so clear-cut for many high school players. To that end, the prospective entrepreneur has created a concept that will turn the idea of a recruiting website on its head.

Boese has partnered with the only other senior on the WSU basketball team, Junior Longrus, to create the business model for a website that will give information about college programs to prospective athletes, an inversion of the popular websites that rate and rank high school football and basketball players.

The two plan to enter the idea in business competitions taking place on campus and in Spokane during the coming weeks.

He and Longrus have been business partners for a long time.

The pair took their official visits to WSU together, and realized that they both had noses for business. While living together in the dorms as freshmen, they began to make plans for their futures.

“Once we talked about what our dreams and aspirations and goals were, right away I think we both knew that we were going to go the same direction,” Boese said.

And the two have complementary styles. Boese is the idea guy, coming up with broad concepts and outlines. Longrus, on the other hand, is a cunning networker and gifted public speaker, who can sharpen and pitch his teammate’s concepts.

“I can’t really explain the dichotomy that goes on but we do bounce ideas off each other,” Longrus said. “He’s very OCD about a lot of things and I’m more relaxed. I loved to talk in front of people. He likes to have the idea and have me talk about it.”

The two seniors, who will play their last games in Beasley Coliseum this Sunday against California, know they will probably not stay in business forever, even if it has been a productive partnership.

Boese compares the pair to coach Ernie Kent and assistant Greg Graham, who have coached together and separately, with paths that diverge and converge when mutually beneficial.

“Those guys have been together for a long time,” Boese said. “They were together at Oregon and now they’re here. Coach Kent said that coach Graham was the first guy he called when he got the job.”

While Boese is an entrepreneur all the way, Longrus has other paths he might pursue.

Few college players who were not themselves superstars or who did not attend NBA factories like Kentucky or Duke have been around as much raw basketball talent as Longrus has.

Growing up in California’s talent-rich Bay Area and playing for the Oakland Soldiers, perennially dominant AAU program, gave the 6-foot-7 forward an expansive Rolodex of future NBA players.

Aaron Gordon, the Orlando Magic forward who threw down arguably the greatest jam in the NBA Dunk Contest’s history last weekend? He was a Soldier with Longrus. Ivan Rabb, Cal’s freshman phenom who was the most highly recruited power forward in the country last year? He started alongside Longrus when the pair played on Bishop O’Dowd’s varsity.

Although he’s never averaged more than 3.3 points per game in college, Longrus has been an occasional starter for the Cougars and found ways to contribute by being a willing defender and having a superior knowledge of what coaches want.

This is another way in which he and Boese complement each other. Boese has carved out a role as a shooter and someone who can play the wing or post, the offensive yin to Longrus’ defensive yang.

Longrus may not have the on-court success of many of his high school peers, but it is unlikely any of them have done more academically than he. Longrus has already finished his degree in management operations and is about to earn a second degree, in marketing. He’s also going to graduate with a minor in communications.

Because of his gift for nuance with his words and ability to construct grammatically correct paragraphs on the fly, he’s been a de facto team spokesman practically since he arrived on campus.

And his leadership abilities have never been in doubt.

“I’m getting kind of stuck for words with him, because he’s the kind of guy you want your sons to be like,” Graham said. “He has all the qualities that you want: He works hard, thinks of others, he’s intelligent and he has all the qualities to be a successful person, good parent and a leader. He’s one of those unique ones. I’ve coached 30 years and he rises right to the top of all the ones I’ve ever coached.”

What’s more, his Pac-12 peers elected him one of the student representatives to the NCAA, meaning that he has swam in the deep end of the pool with athletic directors, college administrators and other highly-capable students while attending NCAA conventions and taking votes that affect thousands of his peers.

Those experiences showed Longrus a way to intersect his passion for business with his love of college sports.

“I’d like to work for the Pac-12, or the Big Ten, or a major conference like them,” Longrus said. “ I think that’s the type of policy and legislation I would enjoy, because it marries the things that I love. And a lot of people who work high up, they played college sports and the avenues they’ve taken are avenues I’ve taken to find my interests.”

And perhaps Boese’s entrepreneurial spirit will yield a partnership between the two that satisfies both of their desires for their futures, ensuring they remain teammates long after their playing days are over.

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