Cougar Notebook: Hot on hoops recruiting road

JULY IS THE ONE TIME of year when college football coaches can take some vacation time. Basketball, however, is a different story. There's a prospect evaluation period in full swing right now for hoops. Three coaches per Division IA school are allowed to be on the recruiting trail at the same time and WSU looks to be out in force across a wide swath of geography.

Basketball recruiting isn't nearly as regionalized as football and WSU in the Bennett Era has truly cast a worldwide net. Not surprisingly, head coach Tony Bennett recently returned from a five-day trip to Serbia where he and assistant coach Matt Woodley took part in a clinic that is the biggest in Europe. Right after Serbia, an AAU coach tells CF.C, one WSU assistant coach went to Oklahoma, Wisconsin and California -- in the space of four days -- to check out prospects.

In a previous evaluation period, one of the WSU assistants was making the rounds in New Zealand.

WSU has four scholarships available for its 2009 recruiting class and two of those slots already are spoken for in the form of verbal commits Anthony Brown of Spokane and Xavier Thames of Elk Grove, Calif. With half the class full, you can bet Bennett and his staff are scouting this summer for the kids who will make up the 2010 and 2011 classes.

Of course, one member of the Cougars' 2010 class already is in the fold. Ephrata's Patrick Simon last year -- at age 14 -- became the youngest verbal commitment in any sport, ever, at Washington State. The 6-7 forward had a stellar sophomore season this past winter, earning first-team Class 2A All-State honors after he and his older brother Daniel led Ephrata High to the state title. Daniel, who was named 2A player of the year, will take his game to Lewis & Clark State this season.

Brown, by the way, is the second-earliest verbal commit in WSU hoops history. Four months after Simon made his pledge, Brown – who had just completed his sophomore year at Shadle Park High – made his oral pledge to WSU. His Shadle Park team had an outstanding 2007-08 season, but just couldn't get by their cross-town rival – two-time undefeated state champion Ferris. With the Saxons graduating most of their prime-time talent – including WSU-bound forward DeAngelo Casto and WSU-bound receiver Jared Karstetter – things look bright for the Highlanders this upcoming season.

Except ...

Except that 6-6, 220-pound Aaron Dunn, one of Shadle's major talents in the post – and one of Brown's closest friends – is transferring to Mead High this year. Two weeks ago Dunn made headlines when he became the earliest verbal commit in WSU football history. He turned in an MVP showing at tight end in WSU's summer youth camp, and soon after earned an offer from head coach Paul Wulff. It didn't take Dunn long to make up his mind. He was born a Cougar. Both his parents are WSU graduates and his older brother is a student there now.

COUGAR WOMEN'S HOOPS coach June Daugherty will be in the Seattle area August 4 and 5 headlining three youth basketball camps being put on by the Hope Heart Institute. The camps are in Tukwila, Renton and Seattle (Capitol Hill). To sign up your youngster, click to .

COUGAR HURDLES STAR Jeshua Anderson missed a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, but he can take solace with the three major championships be won this season in the 400 meter hurdles: the Junior Worlds, the NCAA and the Pac-10. Jeshua now will turn his attention to preparation for the WSU football season. Another Cougar, legendary distance runner Bernard Legat, has his eyes firmly fixed on the Olympics. The naturalized U.S. citizen by way of Kenya and Pullman, has a very real shot coming home from Beijing with TWO gold medals. He cruised to victory at the U.S. trials in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races. Legat, who holds two degrees from WSU, ran for the Cougs in the late 1990s. He already owns two Olympic medals – bronze in 2000 and silver in 2004.

• The Cougars' football opener in Pullman, Sept. 6 vs. Cal, will kick off at 3:30 PT and be televised live on FSN. So far, five of the Cougars' games this season have been picked up for TV. Besides Cal, the others are Oklahoma State, Aug. 30 in Seattle; Baylor on Sept. 13 in Waco; and USC on Oct. 18 and Washington on Nov. 22, both in Pullman.

• WSU, working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington to give low-income youngsters a taste of the Cougar way, is finding huge demand for tickets to the Oklahoma State game at Qwest Field. Cougar fans can buy $7 seats and donate them to the cause. To pitch in, call 1-800 GOCOUGS and tell you want to do what's good for the soul and good for the Cougs.

• WSU is teaming up again this season with Sound Transit's train service to offer convenient transportation to and from Qwest for the Oklahoma State game. For information or to book your spot, click here.

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