Ernie Kent and the new coaching staff have been busy on the recruiting trail since taking over in Pullman and that work is starting to pay off with WSU landing its first verbal commitment since the change. Aaron Cheatum, a 6'7 240-pound junior college forward committed to the Cougars on Monday.
Cheatum just finished his sophomore season at East Los Angeles College where he averaged 15.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He was named South Coast Conference Player of the Year for his efforts. Based on his size, you might think Cheatum is a bruiser in the paint, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Nearly 35 percent of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. He shot 34.4 percent on threes and 43.0 percent from the field. He struggled a bit from the free throw line, shooting 61.9 percent.
To get an inside of what kind of player WSU is getting, Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com talked to Cheatum's junior college coach, John Mosley. Here is a bit of what he had to say about Cheatum ($):
"I think that's what Coach Kent and those guys liked is the fact that he's so versatile and he's hard to guard. He's physical enough to guard big guys and play against big guys but he's skilled enough to take big guys off the dribble and physical enough to bully his way to the basket."
Kent visited Cheatum on Monday and the forward committed not long after. He said he liked the coaching staff, the direction of the program and the energy. Playing in the Pac-12 was also a draw. He'll have a familiar teammate when he arrives in Pullman as Cheatum and Que Johnson played on the same AAU team. Junior college basketball recruiting doesn't draw the attention of other recruiting areas, but Cheatum is ranked highly by some services. NextUpRecruits.com ranked him as the No. 25 junior college player in the class while Juco Offers slotted him 44th.
Cheatum will have three years to play two, although I'd assume a redshirt season isn't in the plans. He committed to WSU over offers from Bradley, Miami (Ohio) Cal State Fullerton, Portland State, Idaho and others. He received an offer from Auburn prior to the Tigers' coaching change.
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Washington State receiver Gabe Marks has been limited this spring with a groin injury and has only participated in a few receiving drills. Yesterday, Marks indicated on Twitter that he had undergone surgery.
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With 10 QBs coming back from 2013 -- a number of whom have national pedigrees -- the Pac-12 is as deep at the position as it has been in recent years. And with Arizona and Washington, the two teams with legitimate QB competitions (assuming Utah's Travis Wilson is given the green light by doctors), the supporting casts around the new QB will be strong. As noted: big passing numbers this fall, across the board.
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Amid the firestorm last week greeting the news that Gonzaga was putting the squeeze on Washington State’s basketball schedule, GU athletic director Mike Roth observed, "Folks are making too much of it."