Future Cougar hoopers lighting it up

A QUICK LOOK AT high school basketball box scores around the West tells a pretty story for Washington State fans looking toward next season when top scorers Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low will be gone. All three of the left coast kids Tony Bennett secured for the Cougars' fall 2008 recruiting class are lighting up the stat sheet -- and the win column.

Collectively, the teams featuring future Cougs Klay Thompson, Michael Harthun and Nick Witherill are 55-13 going into this weekend's games.

Thompson, the son of former Portland Trailblazer and Los Angeles Laker Mychal Thompson, is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal per game for his high-flying Eagles of Santa Margarita High (Calif.) They are 22-4. The 6-6 Thompson, who has been nominated for the McDonald's All-America game, has scored 30 or more points four times. He is rated by Scout.com as the 35th best prep shooting forward in the nation.

Harthun (pronounced Har Toon) is averaging 18 points and four assists per game despite being slowed by a back injury sustained in the football season. He scored 39 points in one game, in which he hit 7 of 11 three-pointers. His South Medford High (Oregon) team is 16-3 and ranked fifth in the state. Harthun, a 6-3 guard, helped lead South Medford to the 6A state title last season.

And shooting guard Nick Witherill, a Scottsdale, Ariz., product who verballed to WSU way back during his sophomore year, is averaging 16.9 points per game in his first year at Gilbert High, which is 17-6 this season. He transferred to Gilbert from Saguro High, where he was an All-State performer and led the club to the Class 4A-I state semifinals. At Gilbert, unlike Saguro, Witherill is not the focus of the offense. So while he's taking fewer shots per game averaging six less per outing, he's becoming a more rounded player. The head coach at Gilbert calls Witherill "selfless."

There are two other members of the Cougars' 2008 recruiting class: 6-8 James Watson of Stringtown, Okla., and 6-4 Marcus Capers of Montverde, Fla. In the coming weeks, we'll aim to bring you updates on their final prep seasons.