These two shooters offer hope for WSU offense

WASHINGTON STATE'S mostly one-dimensional offense looks to get a massive shot in the arm next season if Ken Bone's two incoming recruits keep shooting the ball like they have this season. Indeed, help appears on the way, Klay Thompson, because Faisal Aden and Patrick Simon have been prolific on offense.

Forward Patrick Simon this season has put an exclamation point on his comeback after missing all of last year with a foot injury. Per his prep coach, Brandon Evenson, headed into this week's 2A state tournament the Ephrata High senior is averaging a whopping 24.0 ppg.

Some 3,000 miles away, combo guard Faisal Aden out of Tampa isn't far behind. After tearing up the junior college ranks this season, the 6-4 diverse scorer out of Hillsborough CC is second in scoring in the state of Florida and seventh nationally among JC players, at 22.9 ppg. Note: And that number for Aden might be a little low. The official NJCAA site looks to be missing some of his games, including his last outing where he scored 31 points.)

SIMON IS A strong 3-point shooter who is listed at 6-foot-9. He's easily averaging a double-double every time out on the hardcourt, with a robust 13 rebounds per game.

Simon and Ephrata (20-2) begin their quest for the Class 2A state tournament title this week. Their only two defeats of the season came at the hands of Wapato -- the first a 70-66 upset and the second was even more improbable. This past Saturday in the district finals, Simon scored a career high 39 points including two free throws, appearing to seal the win with just seconds left. But Wapato, down by one, hit a half court plea at the buzzer to win 78-76.

The 2A state tournament begins Wednesday and runs from March 10-13 at the Valley SunDome in Yakima. Ephrata is one of three pre-tournament favorites to take the title, a list that includes reigning Class 2A state champion Squalicum (22-1) and Burlington-Edison (19-4).

With Wapato winning the district's No. 1 seed on Saturday, Simon and Ephrata's seeding now places them on a collision course with Squalicum in the semis. Squalicum is the prohibitive tournament favorite according to many and was ranked No. 1 in the state poll the entire season.

But Simon, as he has all season, figures to provide a matchup nightmare for any and all opponents in the tourney. Not many guys stand 6-9 who can light it up from beyond the arc, and pull down double digit rebounds to boot.

ADEN WAS NAMED first team All SunCoast Conference this season at Hillsborough, the combo guard upping his scoring average to 22.9 ppg during his recently concluded sophomore campaign per the NJCAA. He averaged 20.4 ppg as a freshman.

Aden's quick hands also do more than just score.

This season, he averaged 3.0 steals every time out on the hardcourt. He shot 43 percent overall from the field and 32 percent on 3-pointers, and made 74 percent of his free throws. He also logged 3.3 assists and 4.05 rebounds per game.

A native of Somalia who came over to the States at age 8, Aden has a shooter's touch but can also put it on the floor, slash and create.

His season at Hillsborough mirrors WSU's in some respects, specifically a young team with one primary scorer.

Last week, Hillsboro (15-15) and Aden came up short in the first round of the FCCAA state tournament. In Aden's final junior college game, he had scored 20 points at halftime and Hillsborough had forged an eight point lead. Aden ultimately scored 31 of his team's 60 points, but Broward prevailed 72-60. He plans on arriving mid-to-late summer at WSU.

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