A dramatic shift for Railey at WSU

JORDAN RAILEY

PULLMAN -- When Cougar Jordan Railey reflects on his short career at Iowa State, he talks more about regret than basketball. A pair of unremarkable years on the hardwood sidetracked by two arrests pushed the Beaverton, Ore., native closer to the edge of the Cyclones bench by the end of his sophomore season.

At 6-10, 264 pounds, Jordan Railey had no role in coach Fred Hoiberg's "five-out" offense, either. His playing time shrunk from 9.5 to 3.5 minutes a night from his freshman to sophomore year.

It was enough.

"Jordan is a great kid who is emotional and made some bad decisions," WSU head coach Ken Bone said in his teleconference last week. "He's harmless."

The Story County legal system in Ames, Iowa would agree. Railey was arrested his freshman year and charged with disorderly conduct for an altercation with a friend on the street corner near a popular nightlife district for ISU students. Railey said the charges were eventually dropped when authorities learned he and his buddy were wrestling jokingly.

"It was on the street corner and police drove by and then next thing I know (the cop) was grabbing my arm," Railey said. "I had my back towards him and naturally I jerked away because I didn't know it was a police officer so he put me in handcuffs."

The damage was done. The incident was Railey's second run-in with the law in five months. Railey fell asleep at the wheel and flipped his Ford Escape into a cornfield on New Year's Day, 2011, bashing into a median and road sign in the process. Alcohol was suspected in the one-car accident and Hoiberg suspended the center for a pair of Big 12 games.

Bone said the current coaching staff investigated the pair of incidents intensely when they learned Railey intended to transfer.

"I wish he was as tough on the court as he tried to be off the court," Bone joked. "We looked at that hard because of other issues we've had here.

"We're not going to have any issues with Jordan Railey."

BONE'S OPTIMISM ABOUT one of three players sitting this season out because of NCAA transfer rules or academic hurdles isn't without cause (Demarquise Johnson and Brett Kingma are the others). Railey's practice performance has been nothing short of impressive.

Bone said he envisions the tallest player on the WSU roster sliding into the starting lineup next season. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

"He's big and he embraces the physical part of the game," Bone said. "We have not had that since DeAngelo Casto. DeAngelo was more like six-seven-and-a-half. Jordan is a legit 6-10."

Possessing a center that won't hesitate to bang elbows on the low block is critical in a Pac-12 conference loaded with size.

"Jordan's a big kid and right now it seems like every team we face – Washington, Stanford, Cal – every team we've been facing has one, two, or three big guys that you have to be able to go against," Bone said. "It helps to have a big kid in their that doesn't mind playing physical basketball and will kind of give it back."

RAILEY LED Beaverton High and Oregon's 6A classification with 4.6 blocks-per-game. He was third on the team at Iowa State in the same category during his freshman collegiate campaign despite limited playing time.

"I'm a defensive-minded person," Railey said. "Defense-first has always pretty much been my whole life. That was my role at Iowa State my freshman year was I got to play when they needed somebody to play defense."

Unlike Kingma (suspended through mid-December) and Johnson (academically ineligible this season), Railey has spent the past four months of practice developing his offensive skills with assistant coach Ben Johnson, working 20-30 minutes a day on footwork and shooting.

"Adding to the offensive side has made me a pretty good all-around player I think," Railey said.

Teammate and former Big 12 opponent Royce Woolridge duplicated that opinion after his team fell to 1-4 in Pac-12 play following Saturday's home loss to Colorado.

"What I love about Jordan's game is that he's a real big man," Woolridge said. "His post game is working really well. He can shoot threes. He's going to be a big factor next year."

A current general studies major planning to get his degree in criminal justice, Railey plans to return to Portland to work with juveniles and get the Boys and Girls Club running again in his old neighborhood after he finishes his basketball career – one that has dramatically shifted directions at WSU.

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