'Good chance I'll be back,' Motum tells CF.C

LOS ANGELES – Washington State's basketball season might be a done deal – does the College Basketball Invitational await? – but at the very least, WSU fans can dream sweet dreams about next season and the return of junior post Brock Motum for his senior year. Motum is coming back, right? CF.C asked him the question one day after the Cougars' opening-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament.

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Motum, clearly WSU's best player, is leaving the door slightly ajar on the possibility of turning pro this year.

"There's a good chance I'll be back," Motum said Wednesday.

Motum repeatedly said his plan "right now" is to return to WSU.

The Pacific-12 Conference scoring leader may not be ready for the NBA, but he would appear quite capable of playing professionally in his native Australia or in another foreign league.

"Europe pays a lot more than Australia," Motum noted.

Motum said two of his primary reasons why he came to the United States to play college basketball was to play in the NCAA tournament and the NBA. He hopes to survive June and July tryouts to make the 2012 Australian Olympic team.

"I don't know what my chances are," Motum said.

If Motum makes Australia's Olympic team this summer, he might very well put off making a final decision on whether to turn pro next season until the Olympics are completed. Motum would make lots of green in Europe next season, but he doesn't need the money, has good grades and likes Pullman and WSU. Plus, he could use some more work on his defense and rebounding. Just one man's opinion but the way things look right now, count on him to return for his senior year.

Random thoughts from L.A.
--Forty years in the business, and I've never seen a coach so open in discussing possible coaching mistakes he made in a game as Ken Bone. He was at it again Wednesday, wondering if he wore out some players – most notably point guard Reggie Moore, who played 38 minutes and went 3 for 16 from the field – by playing them too much. Bone used only two reserves in the loss to Oregon State. Bone also said, "I don't think I had our guys ready to go" at the start of the game. Not the first time he's said that.

-- As for whether the Cougs play in the CBI, I think it happens. Many schools are reluctant to pay the required $70,000 for a home game -- two of the past three CBI champions were Pac-10 teams that came into the tournament with losing records. Plus, WSU athletic director Bill Moos seems to have friends everywhere who give the "yea" or "nay" on virtually anything happening in college sports.

-- If a basketball tournament falls in Los Angeles and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Maybe 400 spectators were on hand at the start of the WSU men's and women's games Wednesday at Staples Center and Galen Center, respectably. A good car wreck in downtown Pullman draws more people. Even the UCLA-USC men's game drew a sparse crowd. Of course, when the Bruins opened the game by missing 11 of 13 shots and air-balled a free throw, the few fans on hand were questioning their decision to show up. UCLA still won with ease over the sad Trojans.

-- Did you read that Sports Illustrated article on UCLA coach Ben Howland and his allegedly dysfunctional basketball program? Well, on Wednesday, Howland sat out center Joshua Smith for the first half because he was late for the team bus that took the Bruins from their hotel to Staples Center – which is located ACROSS THE STREET from the hotel. Smith walked over and beat the team to the dressing room. If you're curious, all the other men's teams stay in the same hotel, and they walk to the arena. (Sigh.)

-- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott spent a whole lot of time saying a whole lot of nothing at his press conference Wednesday. He refused to confirm or deny it, but the men's tournament for certain and possibly the women's tournament is moving to Las Vegas next year. Gotta be better for attendance, and it takes UCLA and USC out of L.A.

-- I just drove past a small building with a donut shop on one side and a weight-loss clinic on the other. In La-La land, they probably sell designer maple bars with calories on the side. If they can ever do that with pizza and beer, I'll die a happy man.

MOTUM AND THE rest of the Cougars are waiting to see if they will be selected to keep playing, possibly in the College Basketball Invitational. WSU is just 15-16 after losing to Oregon State in Wednesday's first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Motum won the Pac-12's Most Improved Player award and made first-team all-conference.

Through Wednesday, he was the only player in the Pac-12's top 10 in scoring (first, 18.1 points per game), rebounding (seventh, 6.5) and field-goal shooting percentage (seventh, 55.1).

The 6-foot-10, 245-pound Motum made his annual trip home to Australia last summer and added weight and strength so he was better suited to work in the low post. Motum retained his shooting touch, sinking 40 percent of his 3-pointers (28 of 40), and he showed an improved ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.

Motum made progress as a defender and rebounder this season, but he's not a finished product in either area. Partly because he has the ball so much, he leads the Cougars with 98 turnovers, 18 more than anyone else on the team.

Two key WSU recruits for next season, wing Demarquise Johnson and center Richard Peters, have yet to qualify academically. Coach Ken Bone said recently he is "optimistic" both will qualify.

WSU's two other signed recruits, forward-wing prospects Richard Longrus and Brett Boese, have excellent grades and have qualified test scores. All four recruits are high school seniors.

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