A Washington State men’s basketball team coming off its best record since 2011-12, but also one losing its top scorer and rebounder, was chosen 11th in the preseason Pac-12 media poll released Thursday.
It’s the second consecutive year the Cougars were chosen 11th in the poll, after four consecutive years of being picked 12th.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters trying to separate us,” WSU guard Isaac Bonton said. “It doesn’t mean much to us. We still have the same approach every day. It’s a new year for everybody. Nobody’s played through a pandemic before, so it’s going to be interesting. But we’re ready to work, we’re ready to open eyes just like we did last year.”
WSU received some attention in the way of the preseason All-Pac-12 teams, as Bonton was chosen to the second team by media members. Bonton is expected to take on a bigger role for the Cougars after the loss of CJ Elleby, who finished fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring at 18.4 points per game seventh in rebounding at 7.8 rpg, then declared for the NBA draft.
“It’s just another nomination to me,” Bonton said. “I feel like definitely by the end of the year I’m going to be changing some opinions. It’s something that drives me, even being second team. That’s a cool thing to be, but definitely not satisfied, definitely ready to work all year.”
Bonton was an explosive scorer for the Cougars at times last season, especially in Pac-12 games, and averaged 15.3 points per game despite missing four conference games with an injury. Bonton’s scoring average ranks fifth among returning Pac-12 players. The Portland native began his career at Montana State before transferring to Casper (Wyoming) College and then WSU.
He scored a career-high 34 points in a win over Oregon State that coincided with ex-Cougars star Klay Thompson’s jersey retirement ceremony, becoming the first Pac-12 player with at least 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists since 1997, when STATS began its database.
The Pac-12 preseason poll: UCLA (251 points), Arizona State (246), Oregon (241), Stanford (209), Arizona (173), USC (154), Colorado (149), Utah (131), Washington (85), California (65), WSU (54), Oregon State (36).
Members of the All-Pac-12 preseason first team: Utah’s Timmy Allen, Cal’s Matt Bradley, Stanford’s Oscar da Silva, Oregon’s Chris Duarte, ASU’s Remy Martin, USC’s Evan Mobley, Oregon’s Will Richardson, UCLA’s Chris Smith, Stanford’s Ziaire Williams and Colorado’s McKinley Wright.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.