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Locally: Washington State’s Charlisse Leger-Walker named finalist for Ann Meyers Drysdale Award

Feb. 14, 2022 Updated Tue., Feb. 15, 2022 at 6:31 a.m.

Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker drives to the basket during a game against Southern California on January 14 in Los Angeles.  (Associated Press)
Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker drives to the basket during a game against Southern California on January 14 in Los Angeles. (Associated Press)
From staff and news services

The timing was coincidental, and appropriate.

Four days after Washington State sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a career-high 30 points on Feb. 4 in a 63-56 victory at Colorado, she was named one of 10 finalists for the 2022 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award that recognizes the top shooting guard in NCAA Division I women’s college basketball.

The reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year was leading WSU and ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring at 16.6 ppg when the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced the top 10 on Feb. 8.

“As a coach, you just know she’s going to have one of those games and get it together and shoot a higher percentage,” WSU coach Kamie Ethridge was quoted after the Colorado game. “Not that she’s not doing a million good things for us. We really needed every minute of it. She’s a playmaker in whatever she’s doing.”

“Part of the reason why I got 30 today is (my teammates) put me in great spots,” Leger-Walker was quoted after the game. She hit 9 of 18 shots, including 4 of 10 3-pointers. “I got open looks, and I was able to make shots today.”

The Meyers list will be cut to five in early March. Fans can vote on the finalists at Hoophall Awards.

Leger-Walker was on the Ann Meyers Watch List last season when she won the Pac-12 scoring title (18.8 ppg).

It’s the second time in four years a Cougar has been named a finalist for one of the Naismith awards. The program’s all-time leading scorer, Borislava Hristova, was one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Cheryl Miller Small Forward Award.

College scene

For a third straight week, Grady Leonard, an Idaho grad student from Coeur d’Alene HS, was named Big Sky Conference men’s indoor field athlete of the week on Feb. 7.

Grady had a 70-foot, 5-inch weight throw (21.47m) that ranks 16th nationally and is No. 2 all-time in the Idaho record book. His 58-6½ (17.84m) shot put is 45th nationally.

TJ Davis, an Eastern Oregon junior from Sandpoint, parlayed a solid weekend at the WSU Invitational at The Podium in Spokane into the Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s indoor field athlete of the week award. Davis placed second in the heptathlon in a field of mostly NCAA DI competitors, missing first by 35 points. His 5,248 points is the top mark in the NAIA by nearly 100 points and ranks second in EOU program history. Over the two-day span, he won three events, the shot put (42-¾), high jump (6-4) and 1,000m (2 minutes, 45.76 seconds).

Tyson Degenhart has a thing going in Mountain West Conference basketball. The Boise State forward from Mount Spokane HS received his league-leading sixth men’s freshman of the week award in eight weeks on Feb. 7, and third straight.

Degenhart averaged 18.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 1.5 apg as the Broncos split two games to remain in first place in the MWC. The Broncos’ Feb. 3 loss at Wyoming ended a 14-game winning streak, which was the second-longest in the nation, but they got back in the win column on Feb. 5, defeating San Jose State. Degenhart had career highs in points (23) and rebounds (8).

Claire Dingus, a Saint Martin’s junior from University HS, earned her third straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball All-Academic honor with a 3.63 GPA.

Seattle Pacific junior Bayley Brennan (3.41) from Post Falls and sophomore Hailey Marlow (3.92) from West Valley received their first GNAC academic awards.

• Idaho freshman Jenna Bruggeman, who tied for ninth at the Texas State Invitational Feb. 7-8 at 7-over-par 223 (70, 77, 76) for 54 holes, received the first Big Sky Conference women’s golfer of the week honor for spring 2022.

• Whitworth was predicted to finish second in both men’s and women’s golf, third in softball and fourth in baseball in Northwest Conference preseason coaches’ polls.

First-team All-NWC selections Sam Pauly, a junior from Shadle Park, and grad student Caleb Belton lead the Pirates men golfers. The women have back second-team All-NWC sophomore Madeline Hahn and sophomore Brianna McNelly. Willamette edged the Pirates as men’s favorite and George Fox was tabbed to win the women’s title.

The Pirates return first-team All-NWC sophomore infielder Heather Menzer, second-team All-NWC junior catcher Maddy Thomas and sophomore RHP Corrine Vasiloff in softball. Linfield was picked to win the conference.

In baseball, Whitworth has back first-team All-NWC junior outfielder Jaxsen Sweum, second-team All-NWC starting pitcher Dylan Bishop and junior infielder Gage Gibson, an honorable mention selection. Pacific received the coaches’ nod to win the title.

Football

Former Idaho defensive lineman Noah Elliss has been invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis March 1-7.

The 6-foot-4, 367-pound Elliss “made waves at the East-West Shrine Bowl where he impressed NFL Scouts,” the Big Sky Conference reported.

Elliss had 93 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery in 21 games with the Vandals. He was an All-Big Sky honorable mention last season.

Volleyball

Chris Gonzalez, who has 20 years of coaching experience at the highest international and collegiate levels, has been named the new women’s volleyball coach at the University of Idaho, athletic director Terry Gawlik announced.

She also announced the hiring of assistant coaches Bryan Bastuba and Kalisha Goree.

Gonzalez, who has served as a head and assistant coach with the USA women’s national team, Netherlands national team and Czech Republic junior national teams, was the setting coach and offensive coordinator for the Denso Corp.in Japan’s top professional league in 2019-22, helping it to back-to-back league final-four appearances.

He has coached in the Pac-12, Big West, Big South and Big 10 conferences. During his time as an assistant, he coached in four NCAA Final Fours (1997, ’98, ’99 and 2001) that included the first undefeated NCAA National Champion, Long Beach State in 1998.

Laura Jansen, an outside hitter who was a two-time All-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection in four seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock, is joining Washington State through the transfer portal, Cougars coach Jen Greeny announced.

Called “a dominant hitter,” Jansen collected 1,098 career kills, 882 digs, 182 blocks, 59 aces and 1,266 total points with 32 double-doubles, capped by 17 her senior season.

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