HOOPS: Key recruiting weekend; PG on radar

THIS WEEKEND could play a key role in helping determine what Tony Bennett's 2009 recruiting class will look like, as one of the AAU tournaments featuring much of the nation's talent takes place down South. Among the participants looking to show his stuff will be a point guard who has caught the eye of the Washington State staff.

WSU coaches will be in Houston this weekend to observe point guard Xavier Thames (6-3, 175) and other Cougar targets taking part in the Kingwood Classic -- a tourney generally considered the unofficial kickoff of the new college hoops recruiting season. According to the event's homepage, more than 750 AAU basketball teams and 300 college coaches were in attendance in 2007.

"They (Washington State) want to see me go against highly rated guards, see if I play really good defense. So I'm going to try and do that in Houston this weekend...I like defense a lot," said Thames, out of Elk Grove, Calif.

Thames holds offers from Iowa State, UNLV, San Diego State, St. Mary's and Santa Clara.

"Washington State, Iowa State, UNLV and San Diego State are who I've been talking to the most (over the last month). I went to Iowa State about three weeks ago...I liked it and had a good time there. That was probably my last (unofficial visit) there," said Thames.

EARLIER, BACK IN February, Thames unofficially visited Washington State.

"I liked the coaching staff and how they do things there," said Thames. "The guys on the team are great and the area was really good. I was there when they played against USC, and I really like Washington State, coach Bennett and coach (Ron) Sanchez, all the staff were great. I had a good time there, too."

Thames said all the schools remain pretty much even in his mind but did name Washington State and Iowa State as the two who probably hold the most intrigue.

WASHINGTON STATE HAS not offered headed into the Houston weekend, while Iowa State looks to have made gains from last month when Thames told Scout.com; "They're all pretty much the same, but I do really like Washington State right now."

Wazzu and others he said are recruiting him at the point but also with an eye towards his scoring skills.

"I play the two-guard some of the time, I'm kind of a combo guard but I play point guard most of the time," said Thames. "...(College coaches) say I have a good mid-range game and can score, get my teammates involved and have a great feel for the game."

Thames said a decision is not too far down the road.

"Probably after I take the SATs, probably in mid to late May," he said.

Thames averaged 23.7 ppg and 4.3 assists this past season. He also racked up 61 steals on the year.

Xavier Thames profile

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