It's been an open secret for a while, but WSU coach Ken Bone has been actively looking to add a true point guard out of a junior college to the roster in this recruiting class. It appears Bone found his man: San Jacinto College's Danny Lawhorn announced his commitment to WSU via Twitter on Friday night.
Ill Be Heading To Finish My Ball Career At Washington State Next Year In The PAC 12 !!!— Danny Lawhorn(@DJ_Lawhorn) March 30, 2013
Unlike fellow class of 2013 commit Ikenna Iroegbu, whose point guard abilities might have been overstated, Lawhorn is the definition of a "pass-first" guy in the truest sense of the word: He assisted on a whopping 38 percent of his teammates' baskets when he was on the floor last year. For context, WSU's leader this year was Royce Woolridge at 19 percent, and had Lawhorn produced that kind of assist rate at a Division I school this year, it would have put him in the top 25 of all players in the country -- right next to Phil Pressey and Trey Burke.
Obviously you wouldn't expect that same kind of production here, and he doesn't appear to have even remotely the same kind of scoring ability as those guys, but it's clear that this is the type of player -- stylistically -- that WSU has lacked since losing Reggie Moore. Lawhorn also only turned it over on 20 percent of possessions, an excellent mark for a guy who handles the ball as much as he does.
Of course, the best evaluation is one that combines both available data and your eyes, so go ahead and watch the following videos from Lawhorn's freshman season at San Jacinto:
I think you'll agree with me that Lawhorn instantly is the best passer on the team. It's not so much that he's looking to pass first; it's that when he does pass, he puts the ball on his teammates' hands where they can do something with it. That's generally a lost art in the college game, and something that clearly hampered WSU's offense last year.
As for scoring, Lawhorn appears capable enough that defenses will have to pay attention to him. He hit 35 percent of his threes and 49 percent of his twos at San Jacinto -- both respectable marks -- on his way to averaging just under 10 points per game.
Now for the question marks.
Scout.com lists Lawhorn at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds on its profile. That's a good size for a guy with Lawhorn's game. Only one problem: He's probably not actually that size. In 2009, Scout listed him as 5-10 and 170. In 2010, he was 6-foot and 170. So, in three years, he's apparently grown three inches but put on no weight, which I guess is plausible (I grew until I was 21) but oh by the way -- his junior college roster says he's 5-10 with no weight given.
Here's to guessing he's closer to 5-10 than 6-1, which is a pretty significant difference at this level. Defense clearly takes a back seat to offense for Ken Bone, but the rest of us who are pretty concerned with the team's porous defense will note that it's a lot tougher to guard in the Pac-12 at 5-10 than it is at 6-1.
Additionally, Lawhorn's recruitment over the years could be conservatively described as an "adventure." He originally committed to Boston College as a junior at Hartford (Conn.) Public H.S. in January 2009. Seven months later, he decommitted from the Eagles. He then went to South Kent (Conn.) School for his senior year, eventually committing to Fordham in February 2010. Two months later, after a coaching change at Fordham, he decommitted again. He then spent an extra year at South Kent before heading off to Texas for two years of junior college.
I can't find any reports of Lawhorn being a problem at any of his stops, but players who have bounced around that much always concern me a little bit.
That said, on balance, I think this is an excellent pickup for WSU. At this stage of the game, you're not going to find a perfect player, and an undersized guy who can deliver the ball to the right spot at the right time is an upgrade to the rudderless ship this offense so often was this year.
This commitment does put WSU over the scholarship limit, but as we always say, these things have a way of working themselves out. Either someone is going to transfer, or someone you're never going to miss is going to lose his scholarship. So don't stress it.