Washington State filled its news section this offseason with stories of community service. The Cougars helped one woman build a house with Habitat for Humanity, encouraged academics with kids at a basketball clinic, walked in the National Lentil Festival Parade in Pullman, and hung out with senior citizens at a community center.
The headlines came in stark contrast to the negative ones last season after three of the team's top four scorers last season were cited for separate marijuana infractions, with Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore serving suspensions.
According to The Spokesman-Review, coach Ken Bone made it an offseason priority to change the culture by dedicating them to work in the community.
The Cougars who spent the summer in Pullman not only did basketball workouts and weightlifting, they also volunteered for multiple community projects.
Though the coaching staff initiated the process, Bone said, the players ran with it.
"In probably any business you need good character to persevere," Bone said. "We had some issues last year that we think we've done a great job of cleaning up."
Issues needed to be addressed after athletic director Bill Moos in an interview with The Spokesman-Review was critical of the student-athlete culture on campus in wake of a third men's basketball marijuana incident involving DeAngelo Casto last March.
"I'm not sure we have a championship mentality here. We have to instill in our student-athletes a mentality that Saturday's game is more important than tonight's party. We're in a location that has a lot of positives, but Pullman is also extremely visible and our young people need to be aware of that."
"But we still need to address the drug issue in this department," Moos said. "In a perfect world, if the Pullman police or campus police wanted to target our athletes, there would be nothing to target."
Now that Pac-10 scoring champion Thompson and rugged big man Casto have turned pro following an unsatisfying 9-9 conference finish that resulted in a trip to the NIT, the rebuilding process begins.
At Washington State, the culture apparently needed to be rebuilt as well.