Posted on January 27, 2021
It’s safe to say that WSU’s two main scoring options are Isaac Bonton and Noah Williams. But the third offensive weapon has remained a question for the Cougars this season. We’ve seen breakout games from Efe Abogidi, Andrej Jakimovski, TJ Bamba, among numerous others.
WSU still isn’t an offense-centric team like UCLA or Arizona, but the potential has been there.
Freshman center Dishon Jackson has quietly moved his way up the food chain, and this is a tremendous sign for the Cougars’ offense moving forward. For a team that gets their points mainly from the guard position, it’s refreshing to see the Cougs starting to take advantage of the low-post opportunities that Jackson gives them.
WSU’s low-post presence was virtually non-existent last season. Former WSU forward Jeff Pollard served as the team’s starting center, despite standing at just 6-foot-9. The Cougs only had one true center on the roster last season, then-freshman Volodymyr Markovetskyy.
Fans would have a greater chance of seeing Mugsy Bogues dunk a basketball than seeing any sort of offensive presence from Markovetskyy.
Pollard did what he could at the position, averaging a career-best 8.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during his senior season. But the scoring that season came from then-Cougar forward CJ Elleby and then-junior Bonton.
This setup earned them a 16-16 record, but WSU head coach Kyle Smith agreed then, as he does now, that the scoring needs to be balanced out, and that the team can’t rely on one or two players to dig them out of a hole. That’s where Jackson comes in.
The 6-foot-10 center from Vallejo, CA, ranks 11th all-time in WSU prospect ratings according to 247 sports—a higher ranking than Elleby, Abogidi, and Williams. Smith has said that Jackson is simply the best post scorer on the team, and he’s shown glimpses of that scoring ability as of late.
Jackson’s ability to fight for inside baskets is what will make WSU more of a versatile offense in the future. When opponent’s defensive pressure is more on Bonton and Williams, and less on the post players, Jackson will shine.
Indeed, when USC did just that, Jackson turned in a career performance. He said in the post-USC presser that he called for the ball from his teammates because he recognized the soft defense, and he wanted to take advantage of that.
That sort of awareness and tenacity down low is what WSU has desperately needed these past few season. And some fans may ask, “Well, what about Efe?” Well, what about him?
Abogidi is great, there isn’t much of a dispute there. But ever since conference play resumed, Abogidi looks for the three-point shot or the big block rather than the inside points. It’s no secret that he’s a tremendous athlete, but when he’s faced up against Pac-12 big men that weigh 20 to 30 pounds more than him, he gets pushed around inside.
Jackson, on the other hand, doesn’t.
Plus, Jackson’s chemistry with Bonton on the pick and roll has arguably been better than Abogidi and Bonton’s. Bonton’s playmaking and overall conduction on offense has been better as of late because he’s not trying to force an alley-oop pass to Abogidi once or twice a game.
Instead, Bonton has meshed well with Jackson’s strength and finesse down low to complete the play.
As much as I bet coach Smith would love for the Pac-12 to be a guard-centric conference, it’s not. WSU won’t face Remy Martin, Tyger Campbell, or McKinley Wright IV without seeing an intimidating big man backing them up.
The Cougars don’t have an offensive-minded small forward, borderline power forward, like Elleby or Robert Franks to match up against almost every defender their opponents throw at them anymore. Bonton and Williams can’t face up on the Mobley Brothers or Oscar Da Silva and still put up 20 points apiece.
The offense will have to spread the ball around more. And Jackson will help the Cougars’ offense take the next step and eliminate this recent drought following the team.
—Recent Ryan Root Stories—
- Root: How will WSU replace Dishon Jackson’s Production?
- Root: Changes Still Needed for Cougs after Snapping Streak
- Root: Falling to Arizona was best loss possible for 8-0 WSU
- Root: How WSU can Maintain its Momentum into 2021
- Root: WSU Freshman Hoops Grades after First Two Weeks
- Root: Top Candidates to Replace CJ Elleby as WSU’s Leading Scorer in 2020-21
Root: How will WSU replace Dishon Jackson’s Production?The freshman center has become one of the Cougars’ main offensive options - February 10, 2021
Root: Changes Still Needed for Cougs after Snapping StreakNow that sophomore forward DJ Rodman is back from injury, he must play a bigger role - February 4, 2021
Root: Dishon Jackson Moving Up Food Chain for CougsWSU is beginning to take advantage of the low-post opportunities the freshman gives them - January 27, 2021