WSU hoops recruiting: Sizing up the big men

DARIAN NELSON-HENRY, a 6-10, 250-pound senior-to-be from Kirkland, had just gotten off the phone with Washington State when he was asked where he stands in the recruiting process. The true center out of Lake Washington High is one of the state's top prospects in the 2012 recruiting cycle.

He has offers from Gonzaga, Santa Clara and others, but isn't ready to commit to anyone until he knows for sure where he stands with Washington State and the rest of the Pac-12.

"I just talked to Washington State today, I have been in contact with them," said Nelson-Henry. "I have talked to Washington a couple of times, recently more than in the past. I also went down to Stanford's camp in June."

Washington State is the program that has been the most consistent in their pursuit of Nelson-Henry and the Cougar staff has asked him to be patient in waiting for an offer.

"Really I just have to wait and see how things play out for them with other recruits," said Nelson-Henry.

One of those other prospects appears to be 6-11, 250-pound junior college center Waverly Austin at Palm Beach State College in Florida, where he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game this past season. Before heading the JC route for academic reasons, he had committed verbally to South Florida of the Big East. He also has an offer from Oklahoma.

Two other big men the Cougars are believed to have offered in this recruiting cycle are 6-9, 295-pound Zach Banner of Lakewood, Wash., and 6-10, 245-pound Richard Peters of Westwind Academy in Phoenix. Banner is also one of the top football prospects in the state and widely believed headed that direction in college.

As for Nelson-Henry, says he would like to formally end the recruiting process during the early signing period, which runs from Nov. 9-16. "I would like to commit in late September or early October," said Nelson-Henry. "If I don't have any other offers then I will choose from the offers I have."

"Gonzaga is my number one still," said Nelson-Henry. "Columbia is up there, as well as the other Ivy League schools." He also has an offer from Boise State.

While Nelson-Henry is excited about the possibility of playing for Gonzaga, there is no getting around the lure of the Pac-12.

"I like Gonzaga because of the combination of good athletics and good education," said Nelson-Henry. "I would love to play Pac-12 basketball though. I think that the West Coast is where I belong. If I can play in the Pac-12 then I would do that."

Nelson-Henry is a prototypical post player who evaluated himself by listing his best attribute and the area of his game that needs the most work.

"I'd say I need to work on my explosiveness around the basket. I'm never going to have a 40- inch vertical, but enough to compete for boards," said Nelson-Henry. "One of my strengths is my good touch and hands. I know what I am going to do when I catch the ball, I'm good with my back to the basket."

He's also pretty good facing the basket, with a solid mid-range jumper. His footwork and passing skills are also solid, but questions about mobility could be what is keeping WSU and other Pac-12 schools from offering.

He was a second-team Kingco 3A/2A all-league pick last season, averaging 14.4 points. 9 rebounds and nearly 4 blocks per game.


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