Thames reaffirms commitment, Wazzu-bound

KEN BONE JUST sank one at the buzzer from half court. Xavier Thames, on the heels of his weekend meeting with the Wazzu head man and assistant Ben Johnson, made it official Monday night. A highly regarded point guard -- he'd become a target of numerous high majors and calls him one of the top guards in all the West -- called Bone tonight and told him he is, definitively, Pullman-bound.

"I'm staying with Washington State," Xavier Thames told CF.C moments ago.

Make no mistake, it's a major accomplishment by Bone for the 6-foot-3 Thames to choose WSU after Tony Bennett's sudden departure for Virginia, which was then followed by an avalanche of interest from multiple schools.

When Bennett left 14 days ago, Thames' father Ray said Thames would ask to be released from his Letter to explore their options. Several high major programs, going through Thames' AAU coach, came running at full speed -- including UCLA, Florida, Arizona and most of the Pac-10 schools.

WSU Athletics Director Jim Sterk never released Thames from his signed Letter, saying he wanted Thames (as well as Brock Motum and Anthony Brown) to get to know Bone and his vision for the Cougar program for a period of 2-3 weeks before talking about a possible release.

Thames didn't need 2-3 weeks. After meeting with Bone face to face, he only needed two days.

Bone was named WSU's coach six days ago. Four days later, this past Saturday in the Thames living room, Bone sank one from half-court.

"He was outstanding in the home," Ben Johnson told CF.C late Monday night. "He did about as good of job as you can do (explaining) his vision of the program and how Xavier's skills really are a perfect match for how he wants to play."

"We had a great time with coach Bone and coach Johnson down here," said Thames. "I sat down with my family after meeting with coach Bone and we just really felt it was the right place for me. He was excited (tonight), he said he can't wait to have me there."

Recruiting is based on relationships and Bone didn't have the luxury of time in building one with Thames. He knocked Thames' socks off anyway on Saturday.

"In a short period of time, you have to make people comfortable with you as a person and as a leader of a program. I was very impressed with how coach Bone connected with Xavier in the home and in a short period of time. It's a major commitment."

THAMES SAID A TRIO of Cougar freshmen this past season, Marcus Capers, DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson, plus the fellow members of his '09 class at Wazzu, weighed strongly into his decision.

"I feel like we can do some great things in the future with those three guys and along with Brock (Motum) and Anthony Brown. That was also one of the main reasons I decided on WSU, because of those guys," said Thames.

Thames averaged 20.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game this past season at Pleasant Grove High School near Sacramento.

He is expected to immediately compete for playing time and possibly the starting job this coming year at Wazzu with senior point guard Taylor Rochestie graduating.

Thames' confirmation is the second of the incoming recruiting class who has reaffirmed his commitment to Bone since he was named head coach last Tuesday. Brown last week confirmed he was headed to Washington State. Bone has said he may travel down to meet with Motum in Australia in the next week or so. David Chadwick was released at his request from his Letter of Intent by Sterk. None of the other three were released form their Letters. Bone has said he may still go out and visit with Chadwick in North Carolina.

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