ULLMAN – DaVonté Lacy had his moments as a freshman for the Washington State men’s basketball team. According to Brock Motum, you can expect even more this season.
One year after Motum led the Pacific-12 Conference in scoring as one of the most improved players in the nation, Motum has pegged Lacy to make a similar jump.
“He’s improved his game a lot,” Motum said. “Not just shooting, but his all-around game has improved.
“He still has room to improve, but he’s taken strides on what he was last year. I think he can be a legitimate threat.”
Lacy, a former Curtis High School standout, started in 30 of 37 games as a true freshman last season. The personable youngster was voted one of the team’s captains by teammates.
“I didn’t know my peers looked up to me in that sense,” said Lacy, who sounds ready to handle the responsibilities of being captain.
“Since they do look up to me, I’ll just try to be the leader on and off the court. If they need help with anything, I don’t think being a captain is just basketball-related. They should be able to talk to me about anything, because we’re all a family.”
Lacy and Motum are the only returning starters on a team with two seniors and three juniors on the active roster. Preseason media predictions – Pac-12 media picked them 10th last week – have not been kind to the Cougars, but Lacy thinks differently.
“The season would not be complete if we don’t make it to the NCAA tournament,” he said flatly. “That’s what everybody’s goal is.
“I don’t want to be satisfied with just making it. I want to win a couple (of) games – at least. I want to experience it, flying different places.”
Lacy spent plenty of time in the air during the summer. He toured China with a team that featured other NCAA Division I players, then went to Australia with the Cougars.
“The summer was beneficial,” Lacy said. “It was very fun.”
The experience was memorable, he said, even if the food wasn’t.
“It was, uh … their food was a lot different,” a smiling Lacy said of his experience in China. “Even the Americanized restaurants were way different.
“Like McDonald’s, they’d still have their traditional Big Mac and Quarter Pounder and stuff, but they’d have dishes that are indigenous to China. Like a burger wrapped around in fat.
“It was gross. I didn’t taste it.”
Lacy averaged 8.5 points and 1.9 assists per game last season for the Cougars (19-18 overall, 7-11 Pac-12). He earned honorable mention to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
“I just want to build off my freshman year and just win more,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “My personal goal is to make everyone better.”
Coach Ken Bone pushed Lacy to work on his ball-handling and defense, and the coach said he’s seen improvement in both areas. Lacy is being counted on to help make up for the loss of senior point guard Reggie Moore.
Lacy said “it was a shock” when Moore, a close friend, was dismissed from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. A three-year starter, Moore was the second-leading returning scorer at 10.2 points per game and led the Pac-12 with 5.2 assists per game.
“I think (Lacy’s) defensive focus has been better,” Bone said. “I think he’s trying harder to play every possession.”
The Cougars play an exhibition game tonight against visiting Saint Martin’s University, then open the season Saturday at home against Eastern Washington. … Oregon transfer Brett Kingma, arrested for marijuana and alcohol offenses last month, has been suspended. The sophomore guard is redshirting. … Bone said prize recruit Que Johnson, a freshman guard the NCAA has ruled academically ineligible this season for practice and games, is “doing an outstanding job” in his WSU classes.