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Four Sign NLIs With Washington State Men's Basketball
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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 11/23/1999
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PULLMAN, Wash. - Four highly-recruited guards have signed letters of intent to play basketball for Washington State next season, Coach Paul Graham announced Tuesday. Two high school players, Tommy Johnson and Marcus Moore, join two junior college transfers, Jerry McNair and Kendall Minor, in what could become WSU's most talented backcourt since the Kelvin Sampson-recruited 1994 NCAA tournament quartet of Isaac Fontaine, Tony Harris, Eddie Hill and Donminic Ellison.

"These are four really good players that we, as a staff, feel really good about," said Graham. "Our goal was to go out and find some bigger guards, guys who will create mismatches. Eventually, our team will look a lot like Oklahoma State where you have four guys who can play almost every position. If you look at the Pac-10, there are a lot of teams that are like that.

"You combine the four guys with a big center, and you have a team that's quick, very athletic and can make some things happen in the transition game. Obviously our goal in the spring is to go out and find another 6-8, 6-9 power forward-type player who can step in alongside of J Locklier whom we have redshirting this season."

Johnson, a 6-5, 195-lbs., senior for coach Willie West at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Calif., is ranked by most recruiting services as the No. 2 shooting guard in the state of California. He is behind only DeShawn Stevenson, the Kansas signee who is the consensus No. 1 shooting guard nationally. Johnson is a leading candidate for this season's Los Angeles city player of the year. He averaged 17 points and six rebounds a game for the Crenshaw Cougars last season.

He was recently named to the Orange County Register "Fab 15" Second Team and is ranked as the No. 3 shooting guard on the West Coast by Mike Miller of Pac-West Hoops. Miller added that Johnson, "made a big enough splash at the Bob Gibbons Memorial Day Tournament that he will likely be rated a top 50 player."

Johnson is described by the recruiting service SoCalHoops as "athletic, has good quickness and moves well on the floor...a great shot out to three-point range." He is among SoCalHoops' top 20 shooting guards on the West Coast (not ranked in any order). Johnson chose WSU over Arizona State, Saint Louis, Alabama, Fresno State and Miami, Fla.

Moore, 6-5, 185-lbs., finished his brilliant career at Dominguez Hills High School in Compton, Calif., last spring, leading the school to the 1999 state championship. He was the 1999 John Wooden Award winner for the state of California for coach Russell Otis and was ranked as the state's top point guard after averaging 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game.

Pac-West Hoops' Miller was impressed by Moore. "Marcus is a legit 6-5 point with very long arms, he was probably the most spectacular passer on the West Coast last year," Miller said. WSU beat out several schools for Moore's services, including Rhode Island and Fresno State, which Moore visited, Auburn, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, Texas, New Mexico, Fresno State and Providence. Both Moore and Johnson were recruited by more than 100 Division I colleges.

Moore, who began his prep career at Redondo Union High, originally committed to WSU during the summer, but a snafu with the NCAA Clearinghouse has kept him out of school. Moore is currently appealing that situation. If he becomes eligible before the spring semester starts at WSU, he will join the team then. If not, Moore will enroll next August.

Minor, 6-4, 185-lbs., will transfer to WSU from the College of Southern Idaho. He is currently a freshman at the Twin Falls, Idaho, school and is averaging 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds through two games this season. Minor hails from Selma, Ala., which is the same home town as Harold Rhodes, a former All-Pac-8 player for the Cougars and long time WSU women's head basketball coach.

Minor was a three-year all-state and all-district selection at Selma High School. In 1998, he was named MVP of the regional tournament. That same year, Minor's high school team qualified for the final four at the state championships. He was recruited by Auburn, Alabama, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Off the court, Minor is an excellent student with a 3.9 grade point average and was a member of the National Honor Society from 1996 to 1998. He was the Mu Alpha Theta president from 1996 to 1998 and held a position on the student government from 1997 to 1998. He will major in civil engineering.

"Kendall is a great person and a great student," said CSI coach Derek Zeck. "He was voted by his team as the hardest worker during the pre-season, which tells you about his character. He is our best shooter and a joy to be around. I would hate to coach this team without him."

McNair, 6-3, 180-lbs., will transfer to WSU from Fullerton College in California. He is listed as the top JC shooting guard in California and came into this season as a preseason NJCAA All-American after averaging 13.1 points and 3.6 assists per game during his freshman campaign. McNair prepped at South Torrance High School in Torrance, Calif.

"Jerry will be a great addition to their program, " Fullerton coach Dieter Horton told the Spokesman-Review last month. "He was already a top player last year, but has just gone off the charts this summer. I don't think there is any question he can and will succeed at the Pac-10 level."

McNair will not play at Fullerton this season and will come to WSU with three years of eligibility remaining. Minor will complete his AA degree requirements next summer and will also transfer to WSU with three years of eligibility remaining.

Graham compared the incoming players to current WSU sophomore Mike Bush. "Mike Bush has that prototypical type of athleticism and aggressiveness that we are trying to recruit," Graham said. "But what I think you will see in these four guys is that they are just as athletic but are more skilled as basketball players."

The four guard signees will help offset the May graduation of WSU's starting backcourt, Blake Pengelly and Jan-Michael Thomas, both seniors. Thomas set a school record with 89 three-point baskets last year, while Pengelly recently became just the fifth player in Cougar history to record 300 career assists. The Cougars will also graduate starting forward and leading scorer Chris Crosby this spring.

- GO COUGS -

Washington State Cougars Athletics
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