Points From Down Under

WSU’s Brock Motum brings a scoring frenzy to the Palouse, all the way from Australia

Ken Bone can’t say enough good things about Brock Motum. Usually, that is.

Bone drew the line the other day when a media type asked the Washington State basketball coach if anyone can stop his star forward.

“That’s a dumb question,” Bone declared. “Of course people can stop Brock. I mean, when you let him touch the ball every third pass, he’s going to score a lot.”

Motum is skyrocketing toward the top 10 in career scoring at WSU, even though he’s only been a full-time starter the past season and a half. One year after leading the Pac-12 Conference in scoring with 18 points per game, Motum is averaging about 20 points and making a determined run at another scoring title as the Cougars enter Pac-12 play against rival Washington on Saturday down in Pullman.

“My teammates have been helping me out by giving the ball in good spots,” the modest Australian says. “They know where to hit me. They’re hitting shots, which allows teams not to just all sag into the key, so I’ve just been lucky.”

Lucky, eh? Not too many players are “lucky” enough to score 23 or more points in five straight games like Motum did recently.

“He’s really, really good,” Jackson (Miss.) State coach Tevester Anderson said after Motum dropped 27 on the Tigers last month. “He hit us inside, outside, the whole deal. He knows how to post up. He’s got good hands. He’ll play on weekends and Sundays [in the National Basketball Association] some time soon.”

Gonzaga coach Mark Few recently predicted Motum will be “an 11-, 12-year NBA guy.” However, ESPN.com and DraftExpess.com rank the top 100 prospects for the 2013 NBA draft, and Motum wasn’t on either list at last glance.

“That’s OK,” Motum insists. “That’s fine with me. I don’t think it’s up to those guys. They just write about what they see. Unfortunately, we’re not on [major networks] a lot, like ESPN, and we’re not always playing in the big games, so they probably don’t see us play a lot, especially down in Pullman.”

Motum is well aware that Klay Thompson, the most recent NBA draft pick out of Washington State, was selected 11th overall by Golden State in 2011 after being ranked significantly lower in most early draft projections.

“If that’s any indication of accuracy,” Motum says, “then that’s OK with me.”

Bone occasionally chides Motum to bolster his defense and rebounding. The coach is quick to point out that the 6-foot-10-inch, 245-pounder has made wholesale improvements in both areas since he arrived at WSU as a gangly freshman.

“He’s gotten stronger, and he plays stronger,” Bone says. “It’s one thing to gain strength, it’s another thing to actually play stronger.

“He’s not just a beast on the court, but he does play much stronger than people probably realize.”

Motum benefits on offense from playing a European-style game. In other words, he can bang down low or step outside to drill jump shots, including 3-pointers.

“He’s crafty,” Idaho coach Don Verlin says. “He’s really good at using his body. He’s just a good enough shooter that he makes you extend your defense. He’s got a lot of moves.”

Motum came to the United States to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. He was open to the idea of leaving for the NBA after last season, but when he failed to make Australia’s Olympic team, he returned to WSU for his senior year.

Motum, a psychology major with “around a 3-point” grade-point average, is the lone Pac-12 representative among the 30 male basketball players nominated for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award honors players who succeed on and off the court. Bone says he’s grateful to coach players like Motum and Mike Ladd, the Cougars’ only other senior.

“No maintenance,” Bone says. “I mean, not like normal maintenance, or a little maintenance.

“No, it’s zero maintenance. They’ve got the right attitude,” he adds. “They bring the right work ethic and attitude to the court, to team meetings. They represent our program well.

“They’re just really good kids.” 

Washington State vs. Washington • Sat, Jan. 5 at 6:30 pm • WSU’s Beasley Coliseum • Televised on ESPNU • Tickets at wsucougars.com or (800) GO-COUGS

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