Surrounded by family and friends at the Rotary Boys and Girls Club that has served as home base for him for so many years, Seattle-area point guard Tramaine Isabell signed a letter of intent Thursday to play basketball at WSU next season.
LETTER OF INTENT: Tramaine Isabell has signed with Washington State pic.twitter.com/I1oJ1JMwW3— COUGFANcom (@COUGFANcom) November 15, 2013
The signing has not yet been officially confirmed by WSU; that should come on Friday.*
Isabell -- who is unrated by Scout, Rivals and 247sports -- racked up a lot of high school honors at Lakeside School last year, but his only other reported offer came from Cameron Dollar at Seattle U. Arizona, Gonzaga and Oregon State are among the other schools who have been reported to be sniffing around.
In watching available video on Isabell, who is attending Seattle hoops powerhouse Garfield this year, it's not terribly difficult to see why he isn't more highly regarded as a recruit; he seems to lack the high-end athleticism in terms of speed and quickness that is a requirement to be a true impact player in a major conference.
That said, it's also easy to see why WSU would have an interest in Isabell and why he could end up having value for the Cougs beyond his star rating. Put simply, he projects to be that elusive "true" point guard that Ken Bone has been chasing like his personal Moby Dick for a couple of years now. Isabell is a strong ball handler and decisive passer, seeming like the sort of player who relishes making the good pass to set up a teammate. And those passes are, much more often that not, very catchable and in positions where players can score -- an underrated skill. Isabell also has excellent body control, which should allow him to probe the lane against overzealous defenders.
Additionally, Isabell is 6-foot-1 with what looks to be an even longer wingspan, so while he might not have the athletic chops to stay with elite Pac-12 athletes in man-to-man situations, he appears to be of a size that he could be effective in the zone that Bone has preferred for the last couple of years.
This narrow role seems to be the most likely reason why Isabell originally announced his intention to attend prep school and enroll in 2015; had he enrolled immediately, he would have been stuck behind junior college transfer Danny Lawhorn in a redundant role that would have left little to no playing time. Now, with Lawhorn gone, Isabell says he intends to enroll next year.
Isabell might never become an impact scorer, but he doesn't have to in order to have value on the roster Bone has constructed. Solid signing.
*Update! WSU confirms Isabell's signing.
"We're very excited about the addition of Tramaine to our program here at Washington State," Bone said in a news release. "He's a gifted and versatile player with the ball in his hands, and yet he's also very capable of scoring at the guard spot."