When James Webb III came off the floor Wednesday after the Boise State basketball team’s home finale, he got far fewer questions from fans about his troubled right knee than about his future.
Webb could be the Broncos’ first early entrant in the NBA Draft, but his approach since before the season began has changed little.
“I try not to focus on that,’’ Webb said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got another year.’’
Boise State coach Leon Rice experienced his fair share of potential early entrants in his 11 years as an assistant coach at Gonzaga, and he said Thursday that Webb, who leads the team in scoring (16.0) and rebounding (9.3), has handled it as well as he would hope.
“He’s doing a good job, he’s just focused on this team,” Rice said. “It takes a while to make sure they understand what’s going on, try to help them through the process. We’re going to help him try to find what’s the best for him.”
As Webb is pondering the next level, a new NCAA rule could be exactly what a player like him needs: As much feedback from the NBA as possible.
The rule allows players to take part in the NBA Combine and one NBA tryout before being able to pull their name out of the draft, pushing the deadline back from mid-April to late May.
“I hope, and I hope it works out the way it’s intended to,” Rice said.
The NBA Draft is June 23.
MOUNTAIN WEST SEEDING STILL UNSETTLED
Heading into the final day of Mountain West regular season play, only three seeds are set in stone — San Diego State is No. 1, Air Force is No. 10 and San Jose State is No. 11.
Boise State will be the second or third seed. A win Saturday afternoon at San Jose State and a loss by Fresno State at Utah State would clinch the second seed for the Broncos. If the Bulldogs beat the Aggies, the Broncos will be third, win or lose.
The Broncos will play at 7 p.m. MT Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas if they get the No. 2 seed, or 9:30 p.m. if they are No. 3. Their opponent could be any of seven teams, the only ones not possible being San Diego State, Fresno State and Nevada.
MARKS TAKES THE LONG WAY TO BOISE
Former BSU standout Derrick Marks received a warm welcome from the Broncos before Friday’s practice, after he made a long trek from Italy.
Marks took a flight from Italy to Paris to New York to Seattle to Boise, arriving in time to see the team before jumping on a flight to San Jose, Calif.
“I just wanted to see the team play at least one time this year. ... I thought it was a good time to come,” Marks said.
Now the Broncos’ No. 4 all-time leading scorer with 1,912 points, Marks was passed by Anthony Drmic on Wednesday. He had hoped to be in attendance for that game, but his Italian team’s schedule made it impossible.
“I came all the way to (congratulate) him,” Marks said with a smile. “I’m happy for him.”
Marks is averaging 14.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as a rookie for Orsi Derthona Basket Tortona in Italy’s second division.
“At first it was kind of up and down, but as the year went on, I started to get better and now I’m playing my (kind of) basketball, so I just have to keep on building on that,” Marks said.
BIG WEEK FOR FRESHMAN ‘SWEET P’
In his last two games, freshman guard Paris Austin has shown he should be more than capable of guiding the Broncos’ offense for years to come. He had 11 points last Saturday at San Diego State and added seven more Wednesday against Nevada.
He had not scored more than 15 points in back-to-back games against Division I teams this season. Austin is shooting 41.1 percent from the floor with 33 assists to 21 turnovers.
“That’s huge, because I think there’s a game people play whenever someone says ‘point guard of the future,’” Rice said. “That’s what we’re counting on. ... We’re relying on him now, he’s helping us now and we have big plans for him in the future. It seems like he’s taking a step in everything he does.”
RARE SEASON FOR GEM STATE
The last time all three Division I basketball teams in the Gem State finished with a winning record, they all were in the same conference.
In 1993-94, the Broncos finished 17-13, winning the Big Sky Tournament after finishing fifth in the league. Idaho State was 19-8 and Idaho was 18-10 that season.
In the 22 years since, all three haven’t finished above .500, but that will change this season.
The Broncos (20-10) and Vandals (19-11) will finish with a winning record, as should Idaho State (16-13).
Boise State (20-10, 11-6 Mountain West) at San Jose State (8-21, 3-14)
- When: 3 p.m. Saturday
- Where: The Event Center (5,000), San Jose, Calif.
- TV: None. Streaming at BroncoSports.com/videos and TheMW.com
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM