The rolling wheatland of eastern Washington is becoming basketball country. No, not at the high school level; one block of the Bronx probably turns out more quality basketball players than the states of Washington and Idaho put together. But at Washington State in the hilly town of Pullman, Coach George Raveling has gathered enough talent from far and wide to seriously challenge UCLA for the Pac-8 title. Not many teams have a 7-foot backup center, but the Cougars do in John Tessem. And not many have the son of a Harlem Globetrotter, but the Cougars do in 6'11" Stuart House (above).
House is from Detroit, where he averaged 31 points a game as a high school senior. He was a starter last season as a freshman, and Raveling says, "No player in the Pac-8 has more God-given ability." House will continue to play center in the double-post offense Raveling learned while serving as an assistant to Lefty Driesell at Maryland. The other postman is 7'2" James Donaldson, a muscular junior from Sacramento, who had hammertoes as a boy and played only one season of high school ball. He has improved rapidly, but is still awkward, especially compared to agile teammates such as House. "I've never been around a player who's made as many rapid strides as James has since he's been here," says Raveling, who not unreasonably expects House and Donaldson between them to pull down about 25 rebounds a game.
State has talent at the wings, too. Don Collins from Toledo was the Cougars' sixth man as a freshman last year and helped win a lot of games with timely steals. The other starting wing should be—surprise—a local boy, Terry Kelly. Collins and Kelly will be backed up by Angelo Hill, who played his high school ball in Wyoming, and Californian Dennis Smith. At the point, Ken Jones from Detroit is a fine assists man—and a good shooter when he needs to be. He, too, has an excellent backup in frail freshman Tim Jankovich, who is from Manhattan, Kans., the site of Kansas State. He dated the daughter of K-State Coach Jack Hartman but he came to WSU because he wanted to go away to school.
"We're good," says Raveling, "very good. For one thing we have 11 guys coming back from a team that finished third in the conference. We also finished seventh in the nation in defense and our 19-8 record was one of the best at Washington State in 15 years."
November 28, 1977
It should be even better this year.