Old adages do not fit Bone's latest WSU class

RICHARD LONGRUS

THE THREE-PLAYER class that third-year men's basketball coach Ken Bone signed -- and discussed during Wednesday -- is a little different. But wait a minute. Three-player class? Where's the fourth?

Recruiting to Washington State means finding undervalued talent. At least that was the perception for decades. But Bone's staff secured the signatures of a few players who passed on other major offers to compete for the Cougars.

"I'm not sure you can substitute work ethic for anything else," Bone said, who praised his assistants and support staff. "I do think we work as hard as a staff as any other to get these guys to Washington State. We really need these guys and we try and relay that message."

Perhaps the most significant was 6-foot-6 guard Demarquise Johnson, who averaged 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season at Westwind Prep in Phoenix. Johnson's talent has garnered comparisons to former Cougars' standout Klay Thompson, who was the 11th pick by the Golden State Warriors in this year's NBA draft, and Bone did nothing to shrink those expectations.

"From what we've seen, he's as good of a shooter -- at least on the West Coast -- as we've seen out there," Bone said. "He's a really good athlete. I think that's the way Klay Thompson was able to separate himself in the last few years. He was athletic enough to finish around the rim."

Bone's staff beat out Washington, Gonzaga and several others to secure Johnson.

They also landed 6-7 forward Richard Longrus from Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif. According to the Scout.com database, Longrus also held offers from Pac-12 rivals Colorado, Stanford and Utah.

"He's taken on an unselfish role of being a lock-down defender," Bone said. "We need that guy with a great defensive presence and being able to rebound."

That has led some to call him a clone of former UW standout Bobby Jones, who played two seasons in the NBA. Bone called that "a good comparison," but noted that Jones was a little quicker and more aggressive. But from a skills standpoint, he said the two are similar.

Bone said Longrus' offensive skills have not always been showcased because his teammate at Bishop O'Dowd was forward Brandon Ashley, who since has transferred to Findlay College Prep in Nevada, and is one of the nation's top recruits.

"He's taken on an unselfish role of being a lock-down defender," Bone said. "He's a very capable scorer. I think he'll become a good offensive player."

Another 6-7 forward, Brett Boese from Shadle Park High School in Spokane, also signed. He averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. Boese is the nephew of Jim Meredith, a standout from the Marv Harshman era.

"We're very excited about Brett," Bone said. "We've watched him play for a couple of years. I think he was a Coug before he officially became a Coug. You want people who are excited and anxious to enter your program.

"He's another guy that can really shoot it."

Bone also noted that Boese, who maintains a 3.95 grade-point average, and Longrus also are standout students. He said the latter has at least a 3.7 gpa.

"That's important to our program," Bone said.

BONE SAID WSU is waiting to announce a fourth signing, which is known to be Johnson's teammate, 6-10 Richard Peters. Because Peters, who also passed on several major offers when he committed to the Cougars, has not signed, Bone cannot discuss him.

"I think he needed to get another signature from his mother who does not live with him," said Bone, adding that he anticipates that occurring in the next 24 hours.

WSU still has one scholarship remaining, but Bone said he does not anticipate signing any more than four players in this class. He said the final scholarship likely will go to a walk on, but he has not determined which one.

That would leave the Cougars with two spots to fill in the next recruiting class as guard Reggie Moore and center Brock Motum will be seniors in 2012-13.

"We will continue to recruit big kids," Bone said. "We still feel we're shallow in that area. You probably will hear that forever.

"With Charlie Enquist graduating and Brock Motum being a senior (next year), we will need to look for a quality post player down the road."

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