Patrick Simon sheds light on his departure

PATRICK SIMON, the son of a Washington State graduate, grew up a diehard Cougars fan. He jumped at the chance to make the earliest verbal commitment in WSU sports history when he was just a 14-year-old freshman at Ephrata High School, and he arrived in Pullman two years ago with visions of stardom.

If Simon is destined for stardom, it will happen somewhere other than Pullman. On Wednesday, the Cougars announced that the lightly used forward had been granted his request to be released from his scholarship.

"I loved Pullman," Simon said by telephone from his parents' home in Ephrata. "I loved everything about being a Cougar.

"Just for my basketball career, I was looking for something a little bit different ... have a bigger impact."

This past season, Simon saw action in 23 of the Cougars' 37 contests and averaged just 6.2 minutes of playing time in those games. The year before he averaged 9.4 minutes per game.

Simon said he was contacted by "a couple" schools at both the NCAA Division I and II levels Wednesday after word of his release came out. Simon, who declined to name the schools, said he's "not sure" if he will try to stay in Division I.

"I'd like to find a school where I get a lot more playing time and feel like I'm getting a lot of rewards for the work I put in," Simon said.

WSU coach Ken Bone had spoken optimistically about Simon contributing more next season. Simon said Bone was "disappointed" when Simon told him of his decision earlier this week, but Simon said the coach has been "really supportive."

In a statement released by WSU, Bone said, "Patrick is an exceptional young man and we appreciate the contributions he's made to our program over the past two years.

"We wish him the best and a successful career wherever he transfers to. We will help Patrick in any way we can."

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Simon, who displayed a silky-smooth outside shot at times, averaged 2.6 points, 1.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season. He shot 39.3 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent (15 for 45) on 3-pointers. As a freshman he averaged 3.2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

Simon committed verbally to WSU when Tony Bennett was head coach. When Bennett left for Virginia, Simon said he was going to rethink his plans, but Bone convinced him to sign with WSU.

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