HOOPS VERBAL: WSU lands Northwest hoops star

FOR YEARS, 4-star hoops recruits who committed to an Evergreen State school landed in one of two places -- Spokane or Seattle. No longer, with Pullman fast becoming the hot locale on the heels of Washington State's remarkable ascendancy in the Pac-10. Indeed, Tony Bennett and crew have landed arguably the top '08 combo guard prospect in the Pacific Northwest. CF.C talks with the newest Cougar.

A four-star sharpshooter with solid ball handling skills, Michael Harthun (6-4, 175) of Oregon's South Medford High, made his way to Pullman this weekend with his mom, dad and brother.

"I verballed to Washington State about 45 minutes ago," the high school senior-to-be told CF.C Saturday afternoon. "I went up on an unofficial visit yesterday and then today we were up in Pullman, my family came up...When I got there, they had all kinds of stuff set up...It was just really special."

One highlight of the visit was when Harthun observed the Cougar team practice in preparation for their international tour to New Zealand and Australia.

Harthun will be able to ink a letter of intent in November, during college basketball's early signing period.

Scout.com hoops analyst Greg Hicks is succinct in his assessment of Harthun: "... an excellent guard prospect. Confident shooter from the perimeter, especially deep. Can shoot it from different spots on the court. Could wind up being a point or combo guard."

Harthun averaged 20 points per game last season, scoring a team-high 24 points in the state championship game and sinking all five of his 3-point attempts. In the three-day state tournament, Harthun was good for 69 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (9-for-13) and connected on 61 percent overall (20-for-33). His regular season numbers were 49 percent overall shooting and 40 percent from downtown. His crimson future looks to be at the 2-spot, said Hicks, with his ball handling skills a bonus.

Credit Bennett assistants Matt Woodley and Ron Sanchez with the recruiting assist for the Cougs.

"Coach Sanchez and coach Woodley, and coach Woodley quite a bit, came to my games. I think other than coach Bennett, coach Woodley has been the guy really recruiting, talking to me on the phone a lot and text messaging. And coach Bennett, as I've gotten to know him better and better over time, and especially this weekend, I've really got to see what he was all about.

"I like the fact he (Bennett) was a point guard in the NBA -- my dream has always been to play in the NBA and I feel he's the best person to help me get there. He's a fun guy, easy going. Some coaches I feel nervous around them I just feel loose, and everything he tells me is the honest truth.

"I felt comfortable from the day I met the coaches. They don't (oversell) their program like other coaches have and I liked that a lot. They all seem really genuine, really honest. He'll tell me there's a flaw here or a flaw there. My mom and my dad, they loved it and thought as highly of Washington State as I did."

Washington State's incoming recruiting class also includes a Northwest product -- Abe Lodwick, a 6-6 shooter from Bend, Oregon. And for the class of 2010, the Cougars already have received a verbal commitment from 14-year- old wunderkind Patrick Simon of Ephrata, Wash.

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