Youngest-ever WSU verbal a good sign of times

PATRICK SIMON IS ONLY 14. His prep coach says he's a multi-dimensional basketball talent who's getting better -- and bigger -- every day. His announcement last month that he had received, and would accept, a scholarship offer from Washington State is unprecedented. And it suggests that WSU's new-found success on the hardcourt may be a long-term proposition.

Presuming he sticks with his verbal commitment, the 6-foot-7 Simon will ink a letter of intent during the early signing period of 2009 and then arrive at WSU in the fall of 2010.

Simon's early decision is a sign of the times -- both in terms of the college game's move to spot talent earlier and earlier, and in the upward trajectory of the basketball fortunes at Washington State.

There should be excitement on the Palouse over this kid -- despite the fact he won't set foot on campus for another three years.


For one, he's an in-state kid, and the Evergreen state is a talent-rich hoops habitat that WSU hasn't been able to tap in an impactful way (minus Walla Walla's Thomas Kelati) since Kelvin Sampson left. Getting this youngster in the fold early is a significant step on the road back to homefront success.

Second, Simon's dad graduated from from WSU, and the youngster really wants to be a Cougar. Coaches in any sport will tell you there's a huge intangible benefit of having players who truly want to be where they are.

Third, Simon is flat out good. There's always a a projection factor in recruiting but even at his tender age, he has displayed some serious bonafides.

Bennett has shown no qualms about offering young talent he thinks will thrive in his system. Last summer he secured a verbal commitment from Nick Witherill, a high school point guard who just wrapped up an outstanding junior season at Saguro High in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In recruiting circles, there's an old adage that the first school to show a kid the love makes an indelible impression.

If Simon develops the way many are projecting, the competition for his services would have been fierce one or two years down the road. Fighting through that circus parade would have made it more difficult for the Cougs to land him.

Still, verbal commitments are not binding, so what's to stop others from going after him if he continues along his current path? Nothing.

But his coach at Ephrata High, Brandon Evenson, says he thinks Lodwick will hold true.

"I've talked to Pat quite a bit about his recruitment process and he'd always said if he gets the right school to offer, he'd commit," says Evenson. "He's got family ties to Wazzu and it's close to home. He said the other day in practice, 'Coach I can just go play now. I don't have to worry about it,' and I think that's been a very big relief for him. Now if coach (Tony) Bennett left, I'd be interested to see how that went. But I still don't think he'd back out of it."

Bennett, a candidate for national Coach of the Year, has been the subject of widespread speculation about being hired away at season's end. Bennett has maintained he and his family love Pullman.

SIMON IS EPHRATA'S best three-point shooter, cashing in on 35 percent of his treys while shooting 45 percent overall and 80 percent from the line.

"What makes him special is he can go hit a three, then block a shot and the next time down the floor, make a post move and score -- he's a tough match up," said Evenson. "He can shoot, dribble, and he plays defense really well. Plus he's 14 years old, he has a lot of room to grow -- height-wise he's going to get bigger and width-wise he's going to get stronger. And then he's a great kid on and off the floor. He's a great kid to coach.

"I don't think Wazzu could have gone wrong in offering him a scholarship. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised when he gets there. He makes good choices, on and off the floor," said Evenson.

Patrick Simon profile

The Cougs received a verbal commitment this week from 6-10 German Fabian Boeke of Urspring Basketball Academy He will arrive at Washington State this fall. He still has some academic work to do to qualify but if all goes according to plan, the Cougs will have a versatile big man according to Moritz Korff, a writer for European Basketball.

"Fabian is a power forward who can work in the paint, but will also step out and knock down shots from longer range," said Korff. During this current season he's already hit 23 three-pointers (35.9 percent). He is a great shooter and he has various offense-options -- That's what makes him special for a player who stands 6 foot 10 inches tall.

He is also a good free-throw shooter at 79.1 percent. Fabian is averaging 5.1 boards per game, a team-high for the Steeples. That's something he really worked on during the past months as well as on shot blocking. In my opinion he is a very talented young man and a great prospect with a lot of potential."

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