HOOPS: Cougar '09 targets coming into focus

WITH THOMAS ABERCROMBIE's move back to New Zealand, Tony Bennett will have four scholarship slots to play with in his 2009 recruiting class. While emphasis figures to be on the post, given that Aaron Baynes, Daven Harmeling and Caleb Forrest will all be seniors this coming season, a look at who the Cougs are known to be targeting mostly points to the backcourt.

In fact, there's already one verbal commitment in the class and he's a 6-5 swingman in the mold of a Kyle Weaver.

Spokane's Anthony Brown is a slasher with moves. Even though Shadle Park's offense was built largely around long-range shooting this season, he still scored in double-figures most nights doing the majority of his work in close around the bucket.

Brown helped lead the fifth-ranked Highlanders to a 22-5 season. They have a strong nucleus returning around Brown. And with cross-town rival Ferris' dynasty likely done -- or at least slowed -- by graduation losses, Shadle is already being projected to travel deep into the state postseason tournament next season.

Brown is just one of several backcourt players the Cougs like. Still, the 2009 Cougar recruiting class is expected to focus significantly on the pots when it's all said and done.

One of the big men on the radar, Trevor Williams (6-11.5, 254), holds offers from Washington State, Purdue and Colorado State. He's a stout rebounder as you would expect given his size but he also has a nice shooting touch from the outside.

Another kid to watch is Brendan Lane, out of Rocklin, Calif. He's sifting through multiple Pac-10 offers, including one from WSU. The 6-9 power forward is described by Scout.com as having nice hands and feet to go along with a solid frame and bouncy athleticism and he's also known for his shot blocking and mid-range jumper.

Meanwhile, in the backcourt,Darius Morris could be shaping up as another recruiting battle between Washington State and Michigan, though other schools remain in the mix. The Los Angeles area point guard has all the requisite skills for running the offense but scoring is also a big part of his game -- he notched 30 points to go along with five assists in a recent AAU tourney game.

Also in the backcourt is Anthony Marshall, who says he is wide open. He has offers from WSU, Gonzaga, Washington and a host of others. A 6-2 wing out of Las Vegas, he's been described as a strong, very active and athletic player with a solid stroke, and advanced defensive skills.

Others on the radar:

Tacoma's Avery Bradley has made significant improvement on his outside shot from last year but he's always been an excellent defender and at 6-2, is an athletic, energetic presence.

Point guard Xavier Thames out of Elk Grove, Calif. picked up a Wazzu offer following his recent performances at AAU tournaments in Houston and Las Vegas.

Combo guard Justin Cobbs has watched his recruitment ramp up recently and now holds Pac-10 offers from Washington State and USC. He's been described as a physical and disruptive presence on the defensive end but he also has a scorer's mentality and the mid range jumper to go along with it.

THE AAU SEASON runs through the summer and the Cougs have shown a penchant under Tony Bennett for targeting talent throughout.

Don't be surprised to see other crimson hued targets emerge in the coming months.

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