BUZZIN' THE PALOUSE: Is Jeshua Beijing-bound?

JESHUA ANDERSON: WILL HE BE RUNNING IN OLYMPICS?

WILL JESHUA ANDERSON, the Cougars' freshman wide receiving sensation, make the Olympic team in track and field? The odds say no, but his steady improvement, coupled with the boost he's likely to realize from facing tough and tougher opponents as the summer unfolds, could put him in prime time.

Trackandfieldnews.com lists Anderson as the No. 9- ranked runner nationally in the 400m hurdles. So what are the Cougar wideout's chances at a trip to Beijing? It's good news and bad news for WSU fans.

Anderson continued his mastery over the competition, and the record books, with a win in the 400m hurdles at the Pac-10 championships in Tempe last week. Anderson, the 6-2, 190-pound speed merchant from Woodland Hills, Calif., posted a blazing time of 49.55 seconds -- a personal best, WSU freshman record and third-fastest intermediate hurdles time ever run at WSU.

The bad news, according to track & field writer and UW public address announcer Paul Merca, is that ut will take a herculean effort from Anderson to make the Olympics -- at least for the 2008 edition. Ahead of Anderson are five Americans ranked among the top ten hurdlers in not just the USA but the world – including reigning world champion Kerron Clement.

So despite being the 19th fastest in the 400m hurdles in the world this year, the competition will be stiff for Anderson at the Olympic trials -- taking place right here in the Northwest in Eugene starting June 27.

The good news, at least for Anderson and fans of Cougar football, is that a trip to the Beijing Olympics would cost Anderson practice time and possibly game time as well this fall. The Summer Games start on August 8 (8/8/08 – chosen for the Chinese lucky number), with track events running though August 24. The Cougars' season opener against Oklahoma State takes place on August 30.

If his Olympic dreams aren't realized, Cougar fans will get to see Anderson blaze past the competition at Qwest Field, where he made his first career touchdown catch last season. Still, anything is possible at the trials, so don't be too quick to rule out Jeshua as an Olympian.

THE RELEASE OF quarterback commit Calvin Schmidtke, along with the recent suspension of Xavier Hicks, show that Cougar head coach Paul Wulff is committed to discipline on and off the field. The aforementioned athletes, along with with recent arrest of Andy Roof have been putting WSU football in the news for all the wrong reasons recently.

It is always important, especially in recruiting, to focus on character. The release of Schmidtke prior to his arrival on campus is a "bad news" type of story -- but it's also encouraging in that Coach Wulff is interested in players that will represent the university well, all while revitalizing the program on the field.

COUGAR BASKETBALL MAY have found a diamond in the rough for next season in the form of Montlake Terrace standout John Allen. The 5-11 point guard, is expected to walk on in Pullman next season and may find his way onto the court thanks to a lack of depth behind returning point guard starter Taylor Rochestie.

Allen and Rochestie could occupy the two non-scholarship spots on the Cougar roster for 2008-09, unless Tony Bennett returns the scholarship to Rochestie, who gave his up for this year so the Cougs could sign Marcus Capers. Or, it could be good news financially for forward/center Charlie Enquist, who may find himself back on scholarship for the upcoming season.

The reason there's a scholie open is sophomore guard Thomas Abercrombie decided to leave the program in search of more playing time. Allen, in addition to rising Abe Lodwick and Cougar newcomers Michael Harthun and Nick Witherill, will be expected to contribute to the backcourt of the future.

Bennett also has Shadle Park star Anthony Brown waiting in the wings for the 2009 class, and scholarship offers are out to several talented guards including Tacoma's Avery Bradley.

THE NBA DRAFT is coming up June 26 and the one thing the gurus seem to agree on is that they can't agree where and when Cougar Kyle Weaver is headed.

NBAdraft.net projects Kyle Weaver as a late first or early second round choice, while ESPN's Chad Ford has listed Weaver going anywhere from the second round to being an undrafted free agent. The general consensus is that Weaver will find an NBA team regardless of the draft position.

Former Cougar great Craig Ehlo told a Spokane paper he feels Weaver would be a great teammate for LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. I agree with Ehlo, and I'll throw in a couple more suggestions: San Antonio and Detroit, two team-oriented systems that excel with defense and would help smooth the transition from Bennett Ball to the NBA.

One thing I hope we can all agree on: it would be hard to see Weaver in a Oklahoma… excuse me, Seattle Supersonics jersey. Let's hope nbadraft.net's current projection holds true and Kyle finds his way to the Portland Trailblazers. Although if he does, one has to admire the oddity of Weaver teaming up with former Husky Brandon Roy.

LET'S PLAY TWO - The Cougars opponent for the 2008 Hardwood Classic in Seattle, Montana State, has drawn some criticism from fans and media alike. But according to one source, there's a reason for it. "I talked to every big school in the country, and nobody wants to play Washington State," Northwest Sports and Entertainment promoter John Hines told the Seattle Times.

Regardless, I have an idea to add some enthusiasm to the annual Seattle game that has nothing to do with improving the men's opponent. With June Daugherty's highly-ranked recruiting class coming in, there's a lot of excitement (dare I say, "buzz"), surrounding the women's program. Why not make the Hardwood Classic a doubleheader – with the women playing first, followed by the men's game.

Outside of the annual game at Hec Ed against the Huskies, exposure has been low for the women's program on the opposite side of the state. Adding a women's game to the hardwood classic would not only help introduce the West Side to Daugherty's program, but also reel in some fans of the men's team that would otherwise miss out on the Cougars' female squad. By keeping the men's game at its regular time, I have a hard time seeing any negatives with a double dose of Cougar basketball in Seattle.

ON THE BASEBALL DIAMOND, the Cougs' primary challenge this year was a lack of pitching. Some notable help should be on the way -- provided he doesn't get drafted and go pro.

Rusty Shellhorn, the star lefthanded pitcher from Spokane's Central Valley High, has been named the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for the state of Washington. Shellhorn, who signed a letter of intent with Washington State last fall, struck out 21 batters in a game in May to set the state record for strikeouts in a seven-inning contest. He had a 7-3 record and 0.78 ERA with 125 strikeouts on the season. Also a talented outfielder, he hit .321 his senior campaign.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Grady Clapp is a professional student and avid sports fan at Washington State. He earned a general science degree last year and will come away with second sheepskin, in pharmacy, next year. He is a native of Veradale, just outside Spokane, and a proud graduate of Central Valley High. For more of Grady's insights, visit his blog at StadiumWay.wordpress.com

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