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Archive for November 15th, 2007

Pac-10 recruiting wrap-up

Posted by Jeff Nusser on November 15, 2007

The Pac-10 did little to hurt its reputation as potentially the toughest conference in the nation yesterday with four top 15 recruiting classes. Here’s a quick roundup of the action from around the league, in order of Scout.com’s class rankings. The national ranking is in parentheses.

Remember, this is only the early signing period. While the bulk of the recruits sign now, there always are a few high-profile stragglers that make their way to the late signing period. It was thought that the Cougs wouldn’t have any late period scholarships available last year, and they ended up with three thanks to transfers.

UCLA (1)

  • The jewel: Jrue Holliday is an athletic, heady player a number of services had ranked as the best guard in the country. Scout.com says he’s a winning machine who can pass, score and defend — precisely the kind of guy coach Ben Howland loves. After a few so-so recruiting classes (by UCLA standards), a pair of Final Four appearances in Westwood have got the highest profile players starting to buy into Howland’s no-nonsense approach. That is a dang scary thought for the rest of the Pac-10. Said Holliday: “Coach Howland made it to the Final Four two years in a row. That’s hard to come by. Arron Afflalo is in the league now. Jordan Farmar. I know he can make NBA players and that’s what I’m trying to do. He thinks I can be one.”
  • Local take: The LA Times

Read the rest of this entry »

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Boeke’s case not isolated

Posted by Jeff Nusser on November 15, 2007

You might remember that the Cougs signed a 6-foot-11 prospect from Germany last year named Fabian Boeke. He’s a lanky, smooth big man who it was thought might contribute this year thanks to his versatility and relative lack of depth in the frontcourt.

He has yet to see the floor this year, and it’s not because of a redshirt. Thank you, NCAA.

Many a European has run afoul of NCAA eligibility standards by playing with quasi-professional teams the NCAA has deemed taboo. The difference here is that Boeke actually was trying to do the right thing, turning down professional offers for the chance to play college ball in the U.S. The academy pays a pair of Americans $1,100 a month to play for them against other professional teams, but Boeke and the other Germans on the team receive no monetary compensation for their basketball play.

Yet, the NCAA stands firm. And Boeke’s not the only one, according to Foxsports.com’s college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, who has taken up the cause in this piece.

“It’s the lowest level of pro ball that there is,” Washington State coach Tony Bennett told Goodman. “The Americans barely make their expenses. … It’s frustrating because these kids went there with the understanding that this would allow them to play here and also get an education”

For now, all the Cougs can do is sit and wait as the NCAA considers their appeal. My guess? He’ll be forced to sit out the year. But maybe that’s just my pessimism, even though the NCAA always seems to do the wrong thing.

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If you’re desperate for reading material …

Posted by Jeff Nusser on November 15, 2007

Here are some links to a rehash of what was posted here yesterday about the Cougs’ new recruiting class.

Additionally, the search continues for former Coug Tony Harris, who has by all accounts disappeared in Brazil. If you’re not familiar with the story, the media interest started with this column. Bizarre is the only word to describe it.

Lastly, here is a look at the Pac-10 courtesy of Jonah Keri at the New York Sun. It’s interesting to see what people on the East Coast think of us. (Tip of the hat to Vince Grippi at Sportslink for passing it along.)

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Bennett comments on recruiting class

Posted by Jeff Nusser on November 15, 2007

Here are coach Tony Bennett’s comments on the five incoming players, courtesy of the WSU sports information department.

“No player is a replica of another,” Bennett said. “Harthun can play the one and the two, he’s a lot like Derrick Low in terms of his ability to shoot the ball and play some one. Capers is a heck of a defender, can really slash and has a nice feel. Some would say Klay Thompson is kind of Kyle Weaver-like. Witherill can just really shoot the ball. Watson is a very good athlete at that size. He has very good ball skills. We do like versatile players. I think this group defensively can be really good. There’s potential but there’s certainly a maturation process they have to go through.”

On fulfilling the program’s needs…
“Next year with Derrick and Kyle leaving, the following year with Taylor leaving and last year with Mac Hopson and Chris Matthews transferring, we felt like we had to address the backcourt and I think we did that. With Robbie, an athletic forward, leaving we felt Watson had the ball skills and defensive ability to help fill that void.”

On the group as a whole…
“There’s a strong amount of character, they’re all a little different and bring some nice athleticism. If they can develop as much as this group that is seniors now, I think by the time they’re upper classmen they’ll be a really good group.”

“I think this group fits the mold of what we’re trying to do here. They’re hungry kids that want to play at an elite level and have a solid understanding of the game. Their teams have won where they’ve been at and they know how to play the game. I like guys who have been apart of winning programs.”

On sticking together…
“You like to think that any class will stick together through thick and thin. Whenever you play in a high, high-level league like the Pac-10, you’re going to have to really compete. There’s no guarantee you’re going to be successful. That’s what makes this job exciting and challenging. I like to think that if we aren’t successful, they’ll stick together and if we are, they’ll remain humble and true to who they are, just like our other guys have.”

On signing day…
“It’s an important day, every year it is. It’s the life-blood of the program.”

On recruiting all over the country…
“This is a program that I think you have to look all over for hidden gems… whether it’s overseas or throughout the country. Hopefully kids in the area will be more attracted to Washington State, because it has a lot to offer. When they see good things can happen, I think it will give us a better shot with young men in the Pacific Northwest. “

On Taylor Rochestie giving up his scholarship…
“Marcus Capers was the last one to commit to us, he and Taylor really bonded on his recruiting trip. Taylor really liked what he was about. He was the last one, Taylor giving up his scholarship allowed us to sign Marcus.”

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It’s official

Posted by Jeff Nusser on November 15, 2007

The Cougs have received letters of intent from five recruits today, filling up all available scholarships in anticipation of the departure of Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Robbie Cowgill and company:

  • Marcus Capers (6-5, 175, PG, Montverde, Fla./Montverde Academy)
  • Michael Harthun (6-3, 175, SG, Medford Ore./South Medford HS)
  • Klay Thompson (6-6, 190, SG, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS)
  • James Watson (6-8, 210, F, Stringtown, Okla./Stringtown HS)
  • Nick Witherill (6-3, 165, SG, Scottsdale, Ariz./ Highland HS)

Together, Rivals has them ranked the No. 7 recruiting class in the Pac-10 — not exactly the kind of ranking that blows you out of the water, but also significantly higher than the recruiting classes of the recent past. Still not sold? Here’s how Scout.com’s Dave Telep characterized giving better athletes to Tony Bennett.

“This is like giving a master artisan finer materials to work with. It’s a scary thought for the rest of the Pac-10, and a fun one for Washington State fans.”

Rivals.com put it this way.

Keep an eye on Tony Bennett’s recruiting class at Washington State. No incoming freshman is nationally ranked, but the class is similar to those on the current WSU roster. The players will quickly warm up to Bennett’s “us against the world” mentality.

Harthun is the most highly regarded of the group, generally ranked as one of the top shooting guard prospects on the West Coast and one of the top 30 nationally. Scout.com ranks him No. 20 nationally and a four-star recruit.

I don’t pretend to know anything about these guys, since I’ve never seen any of them play. And a lot of things can happen between now and when these guys actually step foot on campus. (Ask Fabian Boeke.) Still, it’s great to see that Bennett has been able to capitalize on the success of the past year. Let’s hope he can keep the program on its upswing rather than going through what the football program went through post-’97.

Read on for the release from the WSU sports information office. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Recruiting | 1 Comment »

 
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