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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

May 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

‘Que’ Johnson passes a hurdle, but still has another

Washington State is cheered by the news that wing player Demarquise “Que” Johnson, a 6-5 basketball prospect who turned down Washington and Gonzaga, has achieved a freshman-qualifying SAT score.

A good week, then, for both the in-state Pac-12 programs, as the Huskies got a commitment for 2013 from Findlay Prep (Nev.) guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

Here’s a fresh take on Johnson from WSU coach Ken Bone: “He’s a 6-5, lengthy wing who can score, and a young man that has very good basketball instincts. At this stage, he’s pretty similar to what Klay Thompson was (entering college). I’m not saying that’s what he’s going to become.”

Thompson is, and was, an eye-catching long-distance shooter. Tony Bennett’s staff got onto him only in the summer between his junior and senior years, and Thompson had a prolific senior year.

WSU regards Johnson as less than the shooter Thompson was as a high school player, but, as Bone says, “as good a scorer.”

Now the question is, does Johnson, a Michigan product who attends Westwind Prep in Phoenix, still have a challenge to be waved through by the NCAA Eligibility Center (the former “clearinghouse”)? This is the group that annually judges the legitimacy of coursework, specifically whether courses qualify as “core” (English, foreign language, science, etc.) or whether they’re something outside that realm. Not saying Johnson is at any more risk than any other student, but sometimes there are hitches in this process, and the eligibility center has been known to pay special attention to some prep schools.

Clint Parks, Johnson’s AAU coach, told CBSsports.com that Johnson is “just waiting for clearance on his classes. I feel extremely confident.”

Johnson could be a difference-maker for the Cougars, at a time when the program could use a boost. His addition would add to a respectable perimeter, including Reggie Moore, DaVonte Lacy, Mike Ladd and Royce Woolridge, parlayed with the Pac-12’s leading scorer, Brock Motum, up front.

Frank Burlison, longtime West Coast writer/scout, told me Wednesday Johnson “is immensely talented, a great athlete. Broad shoulders, long arms. He shoots it really, really deep. He (sometimes) plays out of control, but as a sheer talent, he’s good.”

Burlison also weighed in on the Huskies’ Williams-Goss.

“He’s a good player,” Burlison said. “He’s a combo, not a pure point, not a pure ‘2.’ But he’s got good size and does a lot of things well. He plays so hard. He’s a good leader. He’s got to become a better shooter and play a little slower at times, but he’ll be good.”

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