WSU announced the signing of the fourth member of its 2016 men's basketball class today, as Jamar Ergas of Toronto has signed a letter of intent with Ernie Kent's program.
Kent offered the customary vague and effusive praise of his new recruit, who is a bit of a mystery.
Once upon a time -- like around 8th grade -- Ergas was considered one of the top young basketball prospects in North America. (Yes, there are services who rate kids that young. Do yourself a favor and read Play Their Hearts Out.) This is video from 2011:
(Yes, WSU's newest recruit was a better dunker in 8th grade than all the current Cougars are in college.)
Like many prospects, Ergas found himself well-traveled in high school -- first attending Montverde Academy in Florida as a 9th grader, then spending the next two years at 22 Feet Academy in South Carolina, before finally landing for his senior year at Elite 1 Academy in Arizona. There, he averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals (against what was likely the typical hodgepodge of small academy competition).
That was 2014-15. At that time, Ergas was considered a solid three-star prospect. Only, he didn't sign with anyone. He ... well, nobody seems to really be quite sure what happened there. There's no explanation to be found on the Internet as to why he didn't sign with anyone. The Internet also appears to be devoid of any record of him playing any basketball this year. WSU makes no mention of where he's been this year in its release.
One thing that appears to be the case is that he spent some time working on his game at -- wait for it -- another basketball academy. This time, Universal Hoops in Houston, which posted this workout video a few weeks ago:
Now, with all that weirdness being acknowledged, let me say this: I actually think this seems to be a pretty great signing by Kent.
The athleticism is clear on the videos. (And there are many more on YouTube if you like dunks.) It's undeniable that Ergas instantly is the most athletic player on the roster, and while that's not everything, that's certainly something. One of my biggest gripes with Kent's recruiting is that he's consistently signed players who have a low ceiling, players who generally are not going to develop into Pac-12 quality, let alone Pac-12 stars; well, here's a kid who would appear to have a fairly high ceiling. At the very least, he's already got one legitimate Pac-12 skill -- the ability to get up and down the floor and dunk, something that worked out pretty well for another WSU basketball player who also attended Montverde Academy. And Ergas certainly could add more skill as he matures. (Or not.)
I wouldn't expect a whole lot out of Ergas this season, as a year off from playing competitive basketball doesn't exactly prepare a kid for the rigors of the Pac-12. But perhaps he can get his feet wet and start building toward future seasons.
And, by the way, congratulations to Ergas on this scholarship. He came from Canada to Florida when he was 15 -- on his own -- to pursue his dream of becoming a big-time basketball recruit. He's lived a number of different places and attended a number of different schools to try and make that happen. Whatever you think of grassroots basketball and these academies and their influence on college basketball, the fact remains that a young man has now accomplished his goal. And that's pretty cool for him.
With that, Kent now has two scholarships left to offer. Here's a look at the current scholarship distribution.