Ernie Kent tells it like it is in Spokane

ERNIE KENT GREETS YOUNG SPOKANE FAN

SPOKANE -- New Washington State basketball coach Ernie Kent brought his vision -- and upbeat energy -- to downtown Spokane on Wednesday and turned a meet-and-greet with the crimson faithful into a buzz-fest that included insights on recruiting, DaVonte Lacy's star power, and the one-and-done.

After athletic director Bill Moos introduced his new man by saying "you did it at your alma mater, now let's do it at mine," Kent rallied an enthusiastic throng of Cougs at the Davenport Hotel with his thoughts on a range of subjects ...

On one-and-done players:
If a one-and-done wants to come here, we're going to take him! And I will council him on how to handle his money!

On changing the one-and-done policy:
I know what we've been talking about at the national level. Baseball has been dealing with one-and-done for years. If a kid is good enough to play at the professional level, let them! But if they enroll in college, they stay there for three years before they're eligible again. I think that's what you're going to see us go to in the next few years.

On DaVonte Lacy:
Love his name, love his game …. He deserves to have a great senior year. He's capable of being the best player in the conference.

On the team:
I'm excited to see what these players can do when we build them up. They've been beaten down, but the thing that impresses me is that they didn't quit. When a young man stays with you like that, that says a lot about their character.

On school:
We concentrate on academics, academics, academics. Basketball will take care of itself.

On getting players to hit shots:
You recruit players who already know how to make the shot.

On recruiting:
You have to always be recruiting. Even being out of coaching for four years I maintained my relationship with the shoe companies because they have their fingers on the AAU programs and the top players.

I've already heard from top AAU programs in the Seattle area, looking to see where we are and what we're looking for.

My assistants are heading out recruiting tonight. One of them will see 12 players, the other will see 15.

On the Huskies:
Washington is a good program and Lorenzo is a good coach. There's enough talent in the state for both schools and they are welcome to our second choices.

On the future:
Get your tickets now because you can still move around the building. There will come a day when you won't be able to do that.

On staying connected to the game (beyond doing TV analysis):
When I was let go at Oregon, I was about to become the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Tom Izzo (of Michigan State) said that even if I wasn't coaching, I still deserved to have the job. For the last couple years, I've been the associate executive director and I was due to move back and be even more involved this summer. Imagine the kind of information I'm bringing to Pullman after that kind of experience!

NOTABLE:

  • Kent grew up in Rockford, Illinois, one of 10 siblings. Neither of his parents finished grade school.

  • Among those on hand to welcome Kent on Wednesday were Terry Kelly, a standout Cougar guard from 1976-80; Dr. Don Ellingsen, a WSU graduate whose dad, Don, and grandfather, Tuffy, are both in the WSU sports hall of fame; and former Cougar quarterback and defensive back, Dr. Dave Peterson.
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