WSU's new hoops class looks better by the day

WHEN THEY SIGNED in November, the incoming WSU hoops recruiting class of 2008 drew favorable comparisons to the '04 class, who built the foundation for Wazzu's basketball resurgence. This class, arguably more athletic than their predecessors, is looking better and better as their collective prep performances would attest. And you may want to set the DVR tonight as one of them takes flight tonight.

Klay Thompson will lead Santa Margarita High into the California Division III title game this weekend, having logged 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in the regional final to follow up his 40-point performance in the second round.

Thompson is also receiving national recognition, having been selected to play for the U.S. all star team that will face a team of all stars from the Washington, D.C., area next month. The 35th Annual Capital Classic Game is set for April 13 at the University of Maryland. Former participants include all-time greats such as Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Dominique Wilkins and today's superstars, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.

James Watson helped lead Stringtown to it's second consecutive straight title this month, scoring 15 and pulling down 11 rebounds in the championship game. But beyond the numbers, Watson was named the Class B Tournament MVP as much for being a physical force and game changer in ways that don't always lead a box score. To wit, Cougar assistant coach Ben Johnson said the 6-foot-8 uber-athlete will give WSU a goal protecting presence similar to what they had in Ivory Clark.

Michael Harthun, his conference's player of the year, is battling a sore ankle as he and South Medford prepare to defend their Class 6A state tournament title on Thursday against top-ranked Oregon City. He's had some success overcoming injury adversity this year already. With a gash on his forehead, he proceeded to score 13 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter in a critical regular season game against the No. 4 team in the state. His team won, 80-62, as Harthun's left eye was swollen partly shut and his jersey was streaked with blood, the Oregonian reported.

Set the DVR, because Marcus Capers has also garnered some of the national spotlight. The 6-4 guard will compete in the dunk contest championship tonight during halftime of the Orlando Magic's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nick Witherill led his team to a 24-6 record this season, scoring 15.9 ppg on 48 percent shooting. He also logged nearly four assists a game over the course of the season.

THE COUGS ARE also said to be looking at Paul McCoy and DeAngelo Casto. All the roster spots are spoken for so if one or both were to join the incoming class, it would lead credence to the notion guard Stephen Sauls (migraines) might not return to WSU next year.

The Spokesman Review's Vince Grippi reported on his blog that Casto might not require a basketball scholarship "considering his status as a homeless student, which... may make him eligible for government academic aid."

BEYOND THE 2008 CLASS, junior Patrick Simon, part of the '10 class for the Cougs, scored 19 points, including five straight in crunch time, to lift Ephrata to a dramatic, 58-56 victory over Burlington-Edison in the state Class 2A championship game. Ephrata finished their championship season at 25-2. Simon's five straight points gave Ephrata a one-point lead with 1:48 left in the game. Patrick's older brother Daniel scored 17 points.

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