It’s finally starting to come together for Jordan Railey.
Good thing, too, because the college basketball season ends in three months, he’s set to graduate next semester with a degree in general studies and soon he’ll embark on a professional career to “give my baby girl a great life,” he said.
Blakely, his rambunctious 20-month-old daughter, is never far from his thoughts. She keeps him grounded and focused on what’s important.
And that’s also a good thing for Railey, Washington State’s fifth-year senior center, who said his little sweetheart has balanced his life that had been consumed almost entirely with basketball.
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“I always have music playing and we dance and jump around and stuff,” he said. “For some reason she loves running underneath my legs. So whenever we’re dancing she always finds her way running in between my legs while I’m standing up. It’s pretty fun.”
At least once a week, Blakely will spend the night with Railey at his Pullman apartment, which gives him time to brush up on his diaper-changing skills.
“It’s a new reality,” Railey, 22, said of fatherhood. “It makes you want to work that much harder and take things to the next level.”
Since Railey transferred from Iowa State in 2012, the Cougars have been waiting for the 7-foot, 245-pound post player to give them a formidable presence inside.
He started 25 games of 31 during his first year with WSU last season, but averaged just 3.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 16.2 minutes during coach Ken Bone’s last season with the Cougars.
Under his new coach, Ernie Kent, Railey started the first three games of the season before losing his starting job for the next nine games.
On Sunday, Railey returned to the starting lineup and scored a career-high 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting while leading Washington State to a 69-66 upset win over California at Haas Pavilion. The victory snapped WSU’s 15-game Pac-12 road losing streak.
“I started out a little bit slow, but I had DaVonté (Lacy) and a couple of the other guys tell me to keep posting up (and) keep going to work,” said Railey, who missed four of his first five shots. “That only helps.”
Heading into Saturday’s noon contest at Alaska Airlines Arena against Washington (11-3, 0-2), Washington State (7-7, 1-1 Pac-12) has won three of the past four games.
“We’re finally understanding (Kent’s) concepts and his blueprint as he likes to call it and what he likes to get accomplished on the floor,” said Railey, who averages 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.
Saturday’s cross-state showdown pits Railey against Washington sophomore center Robert Upshaw, who leads the nation with 4.6 blocks per game. In the past seven games, he’s averaging 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent from the field.
But the Huskies haven’t seen the new and improved Railey. Last year, he finished with four points and three rebounds in each of the two games against UW.
Railey flushed a windmill dunk on a 6-10 opposing player at the rim in the final minutes of WSU’s 91-71 win over UTSA on Dec. 6 that many believe was the start to resurrecting a slumping career.
After back-to-back 12-point outings to finish the nonconference season, Railey regained his spot in the starting lineup. He had seven points and three rebounds in the conference-opening 71-56 loss at Stanford before leading WSU to a win at Cal.
“I always go with the mentality of doing whatever it takes to get the W,” Railey said. “That’s the great part about this offense is it gives everybody a chance to have what coach Kent calls their night.”