COUGAR SPORTS NOTEBOOK

PAUL WULFF ONCE described Jared Karstetter as "a model student-athlete." Karstetter concluded his Cougar football career in the fall as one of the most prolific pass catchers in school history. And he'll graduate next month with a biology degree and a cumulative grade point average in the 3.6 range. Just as he did in football, Karstetter is finishing strong in the classroom.

The sticky-fingered wide receiver from Spokane recently completed a 33-page honors thesis marked with distinction after two years of studying concussions and neck strength.

"People used to think there might be a relationship between how strong your neck is and how many concussions you suffer by being able to have a stronger neck and absorbing impact better," Karstetter said.

"We found there is no relationship between the two."

Karstetter said he based his findings on studies involving 44 WSU and Pullman High School athletes who suffered concussions.

Karstetter said he suffered only one mild concussion during his four years at WSU. He's training for a possible shot at the NFL, but if pro ball doesn't pan out, the aspiring dentist can use the $18,000 post-graduate award he won as part of his post-season honors collection for combining quality play, academics and/or citizenry.

QUARTERBACK RECRUITING, which typically heats to a boiling point with the start of the May Evaluation Period, appears to be warming up a little sooner this year. Two of the four prep QBs that WSU made early offers to for the 2013 class already have verbally committed. Max Browne of Sammamish last week verbally pledged to USC and Jared Goff of Kentfield, Calif., earlier announced for Cal. Both of the other two -- Tyler Bruggman of Phoenix and Hayden Rettig of Los Angeles -- have said recently that they plan to make unofficial visits to WSU this month. It's also been reported WSU has offered Baker Mayfield, a 5-11, 190-pound QB out of Austin, Texas. Mayfield as a junior was 247 of 378 for 3,788 yards and 45 touchdowns and also rushed for 754 yards and 10 TDs.

GLOBETROTTING COUGS: Former WSU basketball players are performing well all over the globe in the pro ranks. NBA rookie Klay Thompson has averaged 17.6 points per game for Golden State since moving into the starting lineup 17 games ago. Overall, he's averaging 11 points and 1.7 assists. Aron Baynes continues to lead Greece's top league with 8.9 rebounds, and he's 10th in scoring at 13.8. Taylor Rochestie stands second in France's No. 1 league in points (18.2) and assists (6.3).

Derrick Low is averaging 12.3 points and 2.6 assists in Ukraine's best league, while NBA veteran Kyle Weaver averages 9.3 points and 2.7 assists in the top league in Germany.

Thomas Abercrombie finished 10th in scoring (15.5) and second in 3-point shooting percentage (43.4) in Australia's pro league. Josh Akognon recently joined the Canton (Ohio) Charge of the NBA Development League for the stretch run and playoffs. The 3-point bomber scored 33 points in his second game with the Charge after ranking among the top scorers in China's top league with 28.2 ppg (topping former NBA players like Stephon Marbury and Aaron Brooks).

DeAngelo Casto, who averaged 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in Turkey's No. 1 league, dropped down to the No. 2 league at midseason. He's averaging 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds for Optimum.

OLYMPIC HOPEFULS: Former Coug scorer Jeff Varem, an overseas veteran who has not played professionally this season, told Eurobasket.com he plans to play for Nigeria in an Olympics qualifying tournament in July in Caracas, Venezuela. Varem, like Akognon, has experience on the Nigerian national team. Abercrombie, a New Zealand national team veteran, is also expected to play in the Caracas qualifier. Baynes and current WSU star Brock Motum hope to play for Australia in the Olympics in London this summer. The Aussies have already qualified.

CONLEY SHINES: Adam Conley, a second-round draft pick out of WSU last year, pitched five shutout innings as the opening-day starter for Miami's Class A farm club at Greensboro, N.C., in the South Atlantic League. Conley gave up two hits, struck out seven and walked one Thursday. The Olympia native tossed two innings of shutout relief in Rookie ball in his first two pro games last summer after signing late with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins.

THE JONES WATCH: Derek Jones, who tied the WSU career home runs record of Jeff Hooper in Friday's 19-1 romp over Seattle, goes for homer No. 41 Tuesday at Portland. Jones said the record is "definitely special to me," but he added, "That's not what I'm here for. I'm here for W's and championships."

Jones, a senior right fielder from Snohomish, leads the Cougars (15-13, 3-5 Pac-12) and ranks among the league leaders with a .408 batting average, eight home runs, 29 RBIs, a .796 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage. The Cougars resume Pac-12 play Friday in the first game of a three-game series with visiting Utah.

OLD POINT GUARDS EXCEL: Bennie Seltzer, WSU's all-time assists leader, has been named head basketball coach at Samford. The small NCAA Division I school is located in Seltzer's hometown of Birmingham, Ala. The Bulldogs, who play in the Southern Conference, are coming off an 11-19 season. Seltzer, 41, has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at Indiana and Oklahoma under old Cougar mentor Kelvin Sampson, and also at Marquette.

Another former standout point guard for the Cougars, Brad Jackson of the early Raveling years, recently guided Western Washington to the Division II national title. Jackson, who has been coach of the Vikings for nearly three decades, also eclipsed the 500-career-wins mark this season.

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