SELAH, Wash. — For two full seasons, Ken Bone had a coach’s eye view of Klay Thompson.
Wednesday night, he watched via a Pullman restaurant TV as his former star torched San Antonio for 29 first-half points and finished with 34 as the Golden State Warriors squared their second-round NBA playoff series 1-1.
“The thing about Klay is, he’s become much more of a complete scorer,” Bone said during Thursday night’s Washington State booster function at the Selah Civic Center. “He’s always been a shooter. Now he puts the ball on the floor and makes shots going to the basket, and they even post him up sometimes.”
So Thompson, in his second season with Golden State, is blossoming into one of the pro game’s promising young stars. Begging the question, are there any Thompsons-in-waiting for Bone’s fifth campaign at WSU?
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, even though we have some very good young players in our program,” he said. “Last night I was watching the game with DaVonte Lacy and Que Johnson, and I was telling them, ‘See, if you do it the way Klay’s doing it, you’ll be all right.’
“But of course that’s a lot easier said than done.”
Bone, who before last season won 57 games with the Cougars — the second-highest total of any Washington State coach in his first three years — slipped to 13-19 last winter. WSU also went 4-14 in the Pac-12 to tie Oregon State for last place, prompting some to call for Bone’s ouster.
But athletic director Bill Moos, also at Thursday’s function, disagreed.
“For one thing,” Moos said, “We went the whole season without a true point guard. And also, with a very young team we finished with some momentum, not unlike our football team did.”
Bone, who kicked Reggie Moore off the team prior to last season, concurred that not having a point guard was crucial.
“It’s like not having a true quarterback in football,” he said.
The Cougs listed only two seniors on last season’s roster — standout forward Brock Motum and guard Mike Ladd — and Bone is optimistic about junior college transfer Danny Lawhorn, a 5-foot-10 playmaker, along with freshmen Josh Hawkinson (6-9) of Shoreline High School and Ikenna Iroegbu (6-2) from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Lacy (6-3), D.J. Shelton (6-10) and Royce Woolridge (6-3), who at 11 points a game was second on the Cougs to Motum’s 18.7, anchor the returnees.
“We have some good players coming back,” Bone said, “and we have some good players coming in. I can’t say I think we have another Klay Thompson on our team, because Klay was really good and a very special player. But I do believe we’re headed in the right direction.”