WSU's Brock Motum on the rise
PULLMAN – Washington State basketball coach Ken Bone was trying his best to criticize Cougars post players Brock Motum and Charlie Enquist, and he was doing a darn poor job of it.
“They’re just such great kids that they’re not as physical as I would like them to be down there (near the basket),” Bone said. “I wish they had a little bit more of a nasty side.”
That might be the biggest complaint Bone can muster about Motum, in particular. The 6-foot-10 junior, who hopes to play for his native Australia at the Summer Olympics in London this year, has emerged as WSU’s best player in his first season as a full-time starter. Motum has twice scored 27 points in a game.
“Guys like Brock, you like to see succeed because he’s such a great, great kid,” Bone said. “He’s all about the team winning. He’s not selfish in any sense.”
Motum leads the Cougars with 15.3 points per game (sixth in the Pacific-12 Conference), 6.4 rebounds (tied for 11th) and 55.6 percent shooting from the field (seventh among official qualifiers). He would rank 11th in 3-point shooting percentage at 41.9 (13 of 31), but he needs three more baskets to qualify.
“He’s a prolific scorer,” Enquist said.
“I’m playing OK,” Motum said, “but I just wish we could win (more).”
Motum’s ability to hit 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, combined with his high-quality post moves, makes him an unusually versatile scorer for a 6-10 player.
“I wish we didn’t have to play him in the post so much,” Bone said, “but at times, I feel we’re forced to.”
The 245-pound Motum has gained about 40 pounds since arriving in Pullman (“I was skinny”), but he’s not as physical as Bone would like when it comes to defense and rebounding. Still, Motum says Bone doesn’t have to worry about him being too “nice.”
“Off the court, it’s cool to be a good person,” Motum said. “I wouldn’t want to be an ass all the time off the court.
“On the court, it’s important to have a bit of mongrel in you. It all comes back to just wanting to win. I want to win really bad, so whatever it takes to do that, I’ll do.”
Motum led the Pac-10 in field-goal percentage last season at 59.9. That’s when he made his first nine college starts and averaged 7.6 points and 3.0 rebounds. In 2009, Motum led the Under-19 World Championships in field-goal percentage at 60.0.
Motum, eager to develop his game and improve his chances of playing professionally, gave his oral commitment to attend WSU before he ever visited campus. Ben Johnson, the lone holdover from Tony Bennett’s coaching staff when Bone was hired after the 2008-09 season, did the initial recruiting work on Motum.
Motum did wind up visiting Pullman before his freshman year, and he stayed true to the Cougars even when schools recruited him after Bennett’s departure.
Motum was born and raised in Brisbane, a city of 2 million, but he’s adjusted to life in a small town.
“Pullman’s good,” Motum said, “because you’re able to focus. You don’t have much to do besides school and basketball.”
Xbox is one of the primary forms of Pullman entertainment for Motum, who shares a duplex with teammates Abe Lodwick, Patrick Simon and Enquist.
“We play online with each other,” Enquist said with a smile. “We’ve got headsets so we can talk to each other in the next room. We’re out of control!”
Motum has returned home each of the past two summers, and his family is flying in to watch him play in college for the first time next month. He hopes the Cougars have turned things around by then because they’re 1-3 in the Pac-12 heading into Sunday’s game in Seattle against the Washington Huskies (4 p.m., Root Sports).
“Inconsistent – I think that’s what probably would sum up us and them at this point in the season,” Motum said.
“Sunday, because it’s such a rivalry game, I think we’ll both be up for the game. I think it will be a really good game.”
Washington State at Washington, 4 p.m., Root Sports, 950-AM