WSU hoops recruits: Shocked, uncertain

SCHOOL HAD JUST let out when Xavier Thames' cell phone rang. Tony Bennett's number flashed across his screen. "Hey, Coach is calling me," Thames thought enthusiastically. Four hours after pressing the talk button, the standout point guard says he's "still in shock" by what he heard. So are David Chadwick and Anthony Brown, fellow WSU recruits who received similar calls from Bennett today.

"He just told me he had some bad news for me -- that he was leaving for a job at Virginia," said Thames, part of the four-member recruiting class set to enroll at WSU this summer. "He said he felt like he was letting me down. I know it's a business, I told him I hoped the best for him and good luck at Virginia."

Thames, rated the 19th-best senior guard in the nation this season, said Bennett ecnouraged him to keep working hard and to stay with Washington State.

"I'm going to talk with my family and see what I'm going to do ... see who the next coach is.

"Everybody is just shocked right now," said Thames, who is from Elk Grove, Calif., just outside Sacramento. "I really can't believe it. I'm going to sit down and talk with my family about (the future)."

Meanwhile, in Spokane, Brown was equally taken aback by Bennett's move.

"I was surprised," said the All-State performer from Shadle Park. "I didn't even know there was a job offer for him...When he told me, I was just surprised. He called me (this afternoon), told me he had accepted a job offer at Virginia and that he wished me the best of luck."

"I just told him good luck with everything he has going and good luck with everything."

As for the future, "I don't even know, everything has happened so quickly and so fast, I haven't even really thought about it at all," said Brown, who said he hopes to hear from someone at WSU in the near future.

Down in Charlotte, N.C., the 6-9 Chadwick, echoed the sentiments of Thames and Brown. "It's obviously a big shock," he said. "I told him it was a great opportunity, there were no hard feelings and we're still family friends."

Chadwick's family has been friends with Bennett since Bennett's NBA playing days in Charlotte.

In regard to the future, Chadwick was succinct: "I haven't had a whole lot of time for it to sink in -- I don't know what to think about it ... What I do know is that I did committ to Washington State, not just Tony. It's a wonderful school ... I just need time to process it all and see who they're looking at (to be the next head coach)."

Efforts to reach the other member of WSU's incoming recruiting class -- Brock Motum of Queensland, Australia -- were unsuccessful.

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