Ken Bone took the first step toward completing his 2014 recruiting class on Thursday when point guard Tramaine Isabell signed his letter of intent to play for WSU next season.
But unlike last season, when all available scholarships were handed out during the early signing period, Isabell's signing claims just one of the three scholarships Bone has at his disposal for the 2014 class. Here's a look at the current roster and scholarship situation:
As a true point guard, Isabell fills a need on the roster, which is loaded with scoring-oriented guards. While Royce Woolridge has proven he can competently handle the point guard duties for stretches, he's also proven he can score at a Pac-12 level -- and he's more valuable doing that. Ike Iroegbu might develop into a nice point guard, but (much like Woolridge) he appears to be more naturally suited to scoring.
As we noted last night, Isabell probably isn't a piece to build around, but he's a nice piece to have. And who knows? Maybe he blossoms into more. Thumbs up.
Looking ahead to those final two spots, the only glaring need appears to be in the frontcourt. With D.J. Shelton graduating and the remaining players all with major question marks -- Can Jordan Railey get his fouls under control and provide anything with his back to the basket? Can Junior Longrus develop a credible offensive game to complement his athleticism? Will Josh Hawkinson get strong enough in this offseason to survive 20 minutes a game? -- looking for an immediate-impact junior college big man would be an excellent strategy.
Friend of CougCenter Britton Ransford of the Rivals site WazzuWatch.com told me that's exactly what WSU seems to be doing, as they'll likely spend this junior college season evaluating forwards such as Marcus Freeman and Kaylen Shane. WSU appeared to be in the running for Deng Deng, who is sought after by a number of big-time programs, but that no longer seems to be the case.
In my perfect world, I'd love to see Bone add that big man who can play right away -- whether that's a junior college kid or a grad school transfer (an avenue Bone has yet to take advantage of) -- and then use the final scholarship on a guy who isn't needed next year, either a high schooler to develop or a transfer to sit out a year. According to Ransford, the Cougs are looking at Rick Curry, a high school senior out of Texas who fits that mold. He's 6-8 but conditioning is an issue as he plays decidedly "below the rim."
We'd be remiss, though, if we didn't address the elephant in the room.
If the site Verbal Commits, which tracks offers, is to be believed -- I've found it to be pretty reliable, and it jives with Ransford's list ($) -- WSU is seriously connected with exactly zero recruits who are even consensus three-star kids in this recruiting cycle, assuming Isabell doesn't move up after his senior season. That's a problem, because -- to put it bluntly -- it's damn near impossible to win in the Pac-12 if you recruit that way for very long. Dick and Tony Bennett proved it could be done to a certain extent, but of course they did it with a distinctive system and also supplemented their talent with players from abroad. Neither of those apply to Ken Bone.
Bone has never lit the recruiting world on fire, but this class is underwhelming even for him, so it's hard not to attribute it to the hot seat speculation. If I'm Bill Moos, that's something I'm considering if this season doesn't end up going very well on the court, since the speculation about Bone's job will only increase.
How are you feeling about where this class is at? What would be on your wish list for the rest of 2014?