DaVonte Lacy's performance in WSU's 72-50 blowout of Arizona State last Saturday was his best game since the opening weekend of Pac-12 play, and it seemed to answer questions about whether he had "hit the freshman wall."
Lacy's 17 points were his most since scoring 18 against Oregon State on Dec. 31. He hit 6-of-11 shots, including 4-of-9 from three-point range, and also had four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
After the game Saturday, coach Ken Bone told reporters, "There's been talk about, 'Has he hit the freshman wall?' Well, there was no wall up there today."
It has been less a wall than a typically up-and-down freshman season, with the requisite learning curve.
A great three-game stretch at the end of December seemed to augur good things for Lacy. He scored 15 against Pepperdine and opened Pac-12 play with 19 against Oregon and 18 against Oregon State. He hit 17-of-30 shots (56.7 percent) in those three games, including 11-of-16 three-pointers.
But he mostly disappeared from the offense over the next 12 games, when he averaged just 7.2 points. He shot 32 percent (25-of-78) over that stretch, and his shot attempts per game varied from as few as two to as many as 10.
Like the rest of the team, he has played better at home. On the road, he has been pretty ineffective, hitting just 29.2 percent (14-of-48) of his shots.
At 6'3", 202 lbs., Lacy is a stout guard who seems capable of becoming a good inside-out player. But as a freshman, he has lingered on the perimeter. His 132 three-point attempts are almost double the next player on the team (Reggie Moore has 70) and are among the top seven in the conference.
Although he's shooting only 37 percent from distance, Lacy can definitely hit the shot, as he showed in late December and again against ASU. But he is going to have to broaden his game heading into next season.
As for this season, the numbers say he needs to be involved in the offense. In conference play, the Cougars are 3-1 when he has at least 10 shot attempts, and they're 6-3 when he scores at least eight points.
Granted, Brock Motum and Faisal Aden have been the leading scorers on this team, but it's not like the Cougs couldn't use another consistent scorer, especially with Aden out for the season.
Since scoring 14 with five rebounds in WSU's upset of Cal eight games ago, Lacy simply hadn't done much until Saturday.
That had led plenty of folks to wonder whether he had hit the point of diminishing returns as a frosh.
"The wall for me is more mental than physical," he told reporters Saturday. "I played in a lot of games in high school because … we played in the postseason a lot. So I think it's more mental, being locked in, coming to every practice ready to work and get better and have fun in the games and keep my energy level up. ... I think I went through a little bit, but I'm ready now."
If he is, maybe the Cougars have a shot at beating Washington on Saturday and finishing the season strong over the next two weeks.
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