Ernie Kent hasn't had much trouble landing guards on the recruiting trail, but picking up inside players has been a bit more of a challenge. Kent and the Cougars won a battle for an inside guy on Saturday, with 7-foot junior college transfer Conor Clifford committing to WSU over offers from South Carolina, Utah and others, according to Braulio Perez of Cougfan.com. Edit: Maybe not! Cougfan updated its report with news from another source.
THREE HOURS after his coach told us Conor Clifford had committed to Washington State, we received a call from another JC source - one we know to be highly reliable over many years - who said he believes Saddleback coach Andy Ground jumped the gun. That's not to say Clifford isn't coming to Wazzu, the source told us, but he said he knows for certain that he has not firmly decided where he's going.
Clifford is a legit 7-footer who appears to have two years to play two. He initially started his college career at UC Irvine before heading to Saddleback Community College. He's listed at 270 pounds by Rivals.com. According to his ESPN recruiting profile when he was in high school, Clifford has great hands and is fundamentally sound. Clifford averaged 14.7 points per game last season while shooting 63 percent from the field. It doesn't appear he's a dominant rebounder, averaging 6.2 rebounds per game, but it's important to note he played just 22.5 minutes per game.
For the Cougars, Clifford should be in line to see immediate playing time. With Jordan Railey graduating, the Cougars will have minutes to fill. Clifford should be in line to vie for some of those along with Valentine Izundu. Those two will pair with Junior Longrus and Josh Hawkinson down low.
EDIT, 4/27: Done deal!