PULLMAN – Washington State center Dishon Jackson, a strong defender and capable scorer in the Cougars’ frontcourt over the past two seasons, announced Monday through WSU’s social media channel that he will be “sidelined for an indefinite stretch of time” due to an unspecified medical issue.
It’s “too early to tell” whether Jackson will return during the 2022-23 men’s basketball season, coach Kyle Smith told media members Monday.
“There are some things I really can’t touch on, but the most important thing is to get him healthy,” Smith said. “It’s disappointing in the sense – he had so much progress over the summer and he was really looking forward to it, as were we.
“We’re just playing it by ear and he’s working. He’ll do whatever he can to get back, but it’s an indefinite time table on that.”
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Jackson came to WSU ahead of the 2020 season as a four-star recruit out of St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the 20 top-rated signees in program history, Jackson earned a playing role immediately. He appeared in 49 games over the past two seasons, starting 19, and provided the Cougars with a physical presence in the post.
Jackson averaged 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in his breakout rookie campaign. He logged per-game averages of 6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a sophomore last season.
Jackson missed 10 games in the middle of the season after sustaining an eye injury Jan. 8 at Utah. The injury required surgery. Sporting goggles, Jackson returned to the lineup Feb. 20 against USC and added stability to WSU’s frontcourt, helping the Cougars to their best finish in a decade – a 22-win season that ended in the semifinal round of the NIT in New York .
“It’s going to change the way we play, for sure, because he was kind of the anchor in our low post,” Smith said. “He doesn’t want to make a big deal about himself. … We’re rooting for him to get back as soon as he can.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Jackson asked Cougars fans to “please respect my privacy and process” as he works through the issue.
“I do not want to draw undue attention to myself or distract my team,” he wrote. “My inner circle of friends and family understand and are giving me the support I need. I want to move forward with the process. No one needs to feel sympathy or pity for me. I am sure people will want to reach out and send their well wishes via texts or social media. I know you are behind me, but I need to move forward.
“I’ll be back better than ever at some point in the future and will let the community know in due time. I appreciate all of the love and support that everyone at Pullman has shown.”
With Jackson out of the lineup, the Cougars will shift responsibilities in their frontcourt somewhat and force feed reps to newcomer Adrame Diongue.
Returning starter Mouhamed Gueye, a versatile 6-11 sophomore who excelled defensively last year and tested the NBA draft waters this offseason, will be relied on greatly as WSU’s leader underneath. Smith said Gueye will play some center and at the 4 position.
“Mouhamed has a good feel,” Smith said. “He’ll be that sleek 4. We’ll downsize a little bit out of necessity and play him at center, utilize some of his versatility there.”
A four-star 7-footer, Diongue signed with WSU this offseason and is the Cougars’ No. 2-rated recruit of the past two decades, according to 247Sports.com. The Senegal native will adopt a significant role as a true freshman.
“He came in with a lot of expectations, just off of his recruiting,” Smith said of Diongue. “He’s slender, so it’s going to be tough, but he’s got a really good feel on both sides of the ball. Really good quickness. He’s really light on his feet, similar size – heightwise and lengthwise – to Mouhamed.”
Forward Mael Hamon-Crespin is also expected to play key minutes in his true freshman season. The 6-foot-9 France native has an impressive background playing against talented international competition and should make for a dependable option for WSU’s frontcourt off the bench.
“He actually has some girth to him. He’s 250 pounds,” Smith said. “We need to bring those guys along. We’ll need to play (Gueye) at the 4 and play with some size, if that’s our best team.”
Veteran wings Andrej Jakimovski and DJ Rodman could slide into the frontcourt for stretches, Smith noted.
“The perimeter guys, I feel a little more comfortable with their age and experience,” the fourth-year coach said. “We just gotta get the young big ones going.”
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