Brown to arrive on long arm of Dick Bennett

DICK BENNETT last coached a Cougar basketball game in 2006 but his impact on the Palouse is still being felt today. And it will continue that way long after Aron Baynes, Caleb Forest, Taylor Rochestie and Daven Harmeling graduate. You see, Spokane's Anthony Brown, who will arrive in Pullman this summer on the heels of a great senior prep season, was first spied by the elder Bennett.

Indeed, it was when Dick and Tony Bennett came out to watch Brown as a sophomore -- when Shadle Park played Ferris in the district playoffs -- that served as the genesis behind Brown coming to WSU.

"It was the dad, it was Dick who really, really liked Anthony," said Tim Gaebe, head man at Shadle Park. "Tony (did too), don't get me wrong, but it was Dick who really, really liked him."

Brown has always been able to score but he isn't the same player as when he verbally committed to Wazzu back in June of '07. He's added nearly 20 pounds by lifting every morning this past fall -- he's now 6-5, 210. And pointedly, he's become a "tremendous assist player," said Gaebe.

"He loves to get his teammates involved. He's averaging 17 points, which is fine. But he passes up shots all the time -- he's just as happy making a great assist pass as he is scoring a bucket himself," said Gaebe.

BROWN PRIMARILY PLAYS at the wing or point for Shadle and he'll probably come to WSU as a 2, said Gaebe. While he's leading the way in scoring, he also leads Shadle Park in assists (94) and has a 2-to-1 ratio in assists to turnovers.

Gaebe has been in the coaching game for 29 years, been involved in two state championships and his hoops network extends far and wide. Over the course of this year, he's heard from a number of coaches wowed by Brown's athleticism.

After Brown went for 30 against Gonzaga Prep in a 63-60 win this year, John Stockton came up to Gaebe.

"John had a great comment, he said 'I think they're getting a special player,' -- like WSU had gotten a steal," said Gaebe.

"Anthony is a very, very athletic basketball player. Does he have things he needs to improve on? Yes. But he can be taught and learn things the way a program wants things done..You don't coach Anthony's athleticism, that's just God-given stuff."

Brown helped lead Shadle Park this season to a 16-4 mark and No. 5 ranking in the Seattle Times 3A state poll. The Highlanders will be the favorites in the Eastern regional.

A star off the court as well
Gaebe received an email recently from a counselor at one of the area middle schools. One of the students there has been "a troubled kid for whatever reason," said Gaebe and had recently begun to slip back into old habits.

"This kid idolizes Anthony Brown," said Gaebe.

And so what Brown, Gaebe and Shadle Park did is make it so Anthony could hook up and spend some time with the young man this past Friday.

"He's going to start to mentor him," said Gaebe. "He's going to share with him stories about himself and then what he needs to do and what he needs not to do."

It's something Brown wanted to do, said Gaebe, to try and have a positive impact on a young man from the area, a fifth grader, who is in need.

It's just one more thing, said Gaebe, that makes Brown special.

LIKE ANY HOOPSTER making the jump to D-IA, Brown does have plenty of work ahead before reaching his potential at WSU. On defense, Brown has mostly shone bright because he's simply so much more athletic than the competition.

Interestingly, Gaebe said Brown reminds him of another pupil of his, Rob Corkrum, who played a key role in WSU's trek to March Madness in 1994. At Shadle, much to the consternation of Gaebe, Corkrum used to actually allow players to beat him -- just so he could then swat their shot into the third row.

Brown, unlike Corkrum, doesn't take things that far but he has gotten beat this season on defense -- but like Corkrum it hasn't been readily observable because Brown's athleticism has allowed him to post an eye-popping 40 blocks this season. He's also averaging seven rebounds a game.

"If he can figure out to play tough defense and proper defense every possession, I think he's really got a chance early in his career down there at WSU," said Gaebe.

AS FOR WHAT Brown already brings to the table, he might well end up an integral crimson addition as soon as next year when combined with Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, said Gaebe.

Gaebe has followed the Cougars closely this season, even going down to Pullman to take in a few practices in person. He's seen the same thing others have -- that Wazzu on offense has missed having an athletic perimeter player like Kyle Weaver who can slash to the basket, draw contact and score points.

"I think what the Cougars are getting is a very, very special athlete in Anthony.. He's long and he can get to the basket. He's shooting 41 percent from three, 57 percent from two...but he can get to the basket and he can make plays. He's a slasher.

"I can see him being a really great tandem with Klay. You're looking at some pretty good athletes there with DeAngelo, Klay and now with Anthony...And Anthony's only going to get better. When he's a junior, if he keeps working on his game, holy smokes," said Gaebe.

In case you missed our recent feature on one of Brown's Cougar classmates, point guard Xavier Thames, click here

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