Xavier Thames is a Cougar

xtXavier Thames is the latest WSU basketball commit for 2009. Ranked as the #19 point guard in the nation, Thames will no doubt ease the loss of Taylor Rochestie following this upcoming season.

However… there are some interesting comments that Thames makes in the article I linked to:

“We talked about how they’re going to look to get up and down a lot more with guys like Klay (Thompson), (DeAngelo Casto and James Watson) coming in — even with playing the defense that they do,” said Thames.

Not a huge shock – I just hope that Xavier understands the Cougs aren’t likely to become the Phoenix Suns anytime soon. Still, we know that Tony’s approach on offense is different than his father’s in (at least) two ways. First, he is more willing to give players the green light to shoot early in the shot clock. Second, Tony is more likely to let his teams look for opportunities in transition. This statement from Thames is huge in that we now know that Tony is looking to push the tempo even more than he has the past two seasons. It’s a very interesting comment for the future of the program.

“Coach Bennett and coach Sanchez, those guys, I have a lot of faith in them. They’re good people. And it’s a good program. They said they’re looking for me to come in and play right away, if not starting then to get a lot of minutes and help the team out and he said he was excited about that, and I’m really excited too.”

Normally I’m concerned when coaches promise playing time, but the fact of the matter is we’ll need Thames in 2009. Rochestie is staring down 35 minutes a night this season, and beyond that there is no clear replacement. If Xavier keeps on working, he could find himself earning a lot of minutes and possibly even a starter’s job.

This kid is an exceptional player and a wonderful fit for the WSU program. He even has his own webpage! Thames is a guard in the same mold as a Mac Hopson and possibly even a Josh Akognon in terms of shooting the ball. Most sources also say he is versatile enough to play the 1 or the 2. Either way he is the kind of player that WSU had no chance of getting five years ago. A huge commit for the Cougs.

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Casto is a Coug

DeAngelo Casto, the 6’8″ Washington State 4A player of the year, is heading to Pullman.

Casto has signed a letter of intent, which means DeAngelo is in line to receive the last remaining scholarship the Cougs have for 2008-09. However, Casto must meet academic standards to officially become a Cougar, something that is still pending at the moment. Read more about it here.

This is a huge signing for two reasons:

1. Casto is the type of big man the Cougs are desperately in need of, especially when Baynes graduates following next season.

2. How amazing is it that another elite player – not just from Washington – but from Spokane, home of the Zags, has committed to Washington State? (edit: Don’t forget Shadle Park’s Anthony Brown has also made a commitment for 2009) This is indicative of a much larger culture change in the inland Northwest. Now I’m not familiar with Gonzaga’s scholarship situation, so they might not have even had one to give, but it is quite amazing that DeAngelo was extremely high on WSU before the signing period even started. Perhaps he had met with our coaches beforehand, or perhaps the Zags weren’t interested. Still, this is the biggest recruit out of the Spokane area since Adam Morrison. He may prove to be more talented than Sean Mallon, another Ferris grad, who turned out to be a great college player in his own right.

Gonzaga will be just fine with a monster recruiting class of its own for next season. So perhaps this is less of a GU/WSU issue, and more of the general recruiting trend that Dick Bennett predicted. That is, as WSU has more success, the circle from which the Cougs will have to recruit grows smaller. The stars of this year’s team came from Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Texas. Now the Cougs still have national and international talent, but we are also starting to see recruits from Oregon and Washington buy into Bennett’s system. This is a great sign for the future.

Finally, on a blog-related note, I will begin contributing to the Cougar sports and information site Cougfan.com, with my first article due out today or tomorrow. I have to thank Greg Witter and the staff there for having me aboard, and I’m excited about joining an extremely talented group of writers.

Edit (3:45): Scholarship Chart updated, link at the top of the page.

Spring Signing Rumor Mill Update

The always reliable Vince Grippi at the Spokesman reminds us that if DeAngelo Casto is receiving outside help for tuition, that he would not sign a LOI with the Cougars (which implies an academic scholarship is being used). If that were to happen, and Casto went to WSU, the Cougs’ 15-man roster would be full, leaving the scholarship for Charlie Enquist, who is currently slated to be off-scholarship next season. Just another possibility as to how this might play out.

Also, Kevin Love is reportedly going pro. Baynes just keeps getting bigger and bigger relative to the size of the rest of the conference.

Klay Thompson Highlight Video

Edit: For those who may not know, Klay Thompson is a WSU commit for 2008-09, and the son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson.