BREAKING: Hoops verbal, huge Rochestie assist

THIS IS THE STORY of yet another verbal commitment for Tony Bennett and the Cougar basketball team. But there's much more to it. It is also the tale about how the Cougs' starting point guard, Taylor Rochestie -- through a selfless act -- made it possible for WSU to land this fifth member of the 2008 recruiting class and help cement the future of hoops on the Palouse. The newest Coug talks to CF.C.

Marcus Capers, a, 6-foot-4 southpaw guard and uber-athlete out of Montverde, Florida, will sign a national letter of intent with Washington State during the early signing period that begins Nov. 14.

"Coach Bennett has something nice going on up there...they showed the most love out of all the coaches and I felt comfortable with them and so did my mom and dad...I committed Tuesday night," said Capers, who tripped to Washington State three weeks ago.

A skilled defender and slasher, Capers chose WSU over Virginia Commonwealth and growing interest from Florida State.

But the verbal commitment raises one very big question: How do the Cougars have room for him?

The current roster includes only three seniors. And next year's recruiting class already has four verbals in Michael Harthun, Klay Thompson, Nick Witherill and James Watson.


TAYLOR ROCHESTIE

The fourth slot will be available next year because 6-9 freshman Charlie Enquist came to WSU this fall with the understanding that his scholarship likely would be available just this season.

So where is the fifth spot coming from to accommodate Capers?

That's where Rochestie, a junior from Santa Barbara, comes in. He told his teammates earlier today that he approached Bennett about giving up his scholarship next season and turning himself into a walk on for his final Cougar campaign.

Think about that.

In what is all too often a "me-first" climate, where a dunk on Sportscenter is celebrated (and studied) more than are the fundamentals, Rochestie's choice is as remarkable as it is altruistic.

"At the end of the year you ask yourself what you could have done, gone a little harder in practice, hit a key shot, but this was something at the beginning of the year that's outside of playing that I could do," Rochestie said in a WSU release. "This is the least and the most I could do at the same time.

"After I talked with my dad about it, I knew it was a no-brainer. The recruits that I've met are exciting, athletic and are special kids. To be able to set something up for the future and to continue what we've got going means the world to me. To be able to watch the team a couple of years down the road and see that Washington State basketball still holds the same principles and foundation as when we left will be a great feeling."

TO PUT CAPERS verbal commitment into context, two more areas need to be covered -- Capers the player, and what it means for the Cougars long-term.

Kevin Sutton, who coached a Pac-10 freshman of the year in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (UCLA, '05-06) at Montverde Academy, says in Capers, Washington State is getting a defensive specialist with sky-is-the-limit potential.

"Marcus is a tremendous athlete," said Sutton. "He's wiry strong, and he is quick, explosive off his feet. He anticipates very well defensively. He has a tremendous upside and bright basketball future. Washington State liked all of that about him...and they liked that he is a tremendous defender.

"I'm not making a prediction that Marcus will be the Pac-10 Rookie of the Year. But I am making a prediction that Marcus will come into Washington State University and he will have a great career there."

Capers averaged 17 points, six rebounds and four assists a game last season for Lake Region High before transferring to Montverde Academy. Said Lake Region coach David Saltman to the Winter Haven News Chief on the amicable parting; "If you're the best player in your school and your level is so much higher than everyone else, what's pushing you?"

LOOKING AT Capers' addition to the recruiting class from a long term perspective, if you thought other teams had difficulties matching up against Washington State last year, wait until this '08 class has a chance to develop.

Washington State now has five players in the class, all of whom lend different pieces to the puzzle. Most importantly, the Cougs have really set up their backcourt -- at the one, two and three spots -- for the future. A large class, it's chock full of multiple position players who have the potential to adroitly follow in the footsteps of what backcourt mates Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, Rochestie, Daven Harmeling, et. al. have helped establish in Pullman.

So it's yet another prescient pickup for Bennett and Co., who have heretofore crafted a basketball contender on the national stage by finding the hidden gems, the guys with strong work ethics, and then developed their talents.

And it also speaks volumes about the character of Rochestie, his family and the kinds of players in the Washington State program.

"I'll have one year to play with him and I know I'll enjoy it. Having seen him play and just in hanging around him, I know I'll really enjoy that, he's really a cool dude," said Capers.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Montverde Academy is a significant prep school program not only in Florida but also on the national scene -- Sutton has sent 18 players on to Division I college basketball his first four seasons.

  • Big men Robbie Cowgill and Aron Baynes have been huge pieces to the Cougar hoops renaissance. And since it's never too early to look ahead, for the class of '09, fans of Washington State hoops recruiting should look skyward -- Bennett and the Cougs will be undoubtedly be going after the "bigs" to add to the '08 crew.


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