TONY BENNETT has made the state of Oregon a major cog in his crimson plan for success, and a key focus of his recruiting efforts. The highest rated of the incoming class? Michael Harthun, out of Medford. The year previous? Abe Lodwick from Bend, who's ticketed for a major role next season. Now, another prospect, from Hathun's school and with big-time bloodlines, is attracting Bennett's eye.
E.J. Singler and his brother Kyle, who plays for Duke, come by their talent naturally. Father, Ed, was a quarterback at Oregon State and mom, Kris, played hoops for the Beavs. In addition, four uncles variously played basketball or football at Oregon, Stanford and Texas.
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The 6-6, 200-pound Singler just finished his junior campaign in which he and Harthun helped South Medford make a deep playoff run.
He has offers, but none yet from a Pac-10 school. Washington State and others, though, are looking hard in his direction. He's been in contact with both Bennett and WSU assistant Matt Woodley.
"He's (Woodley) funny, too. He's young and their whole coaching staff is young and I like that because they connect with the players well," said Singler. "...I like Wazzu. I like how they play, they play hard. They have an underdog mentality and I like that, that's how I've always played. They play as a team.
Singler is from the same high school, South Medford, as future Cougar and 4-star prospect Michael Harthun.
"We're pretty close. We haven't really talked about 'Yeah I want to go to Washington State because you are,' but that's definitely (one of the things) in my mind. He's a good player," said Singler.
SINGLER ON THE phone is laid back and laughs a lot. But he said his demeanor is different out on the hardwood, particularly on the defensive end.
"I love defense. That pretty much sparks my (overall) game...I take a lot of pride in that. I always get mad when a guy scores on me. I take offense to that," said Singler.
Singler holds offers from Pepperdine and St. Louis. In addition to Washington State, he's hearing from Stanford, Oregon and Cal. Distance isn't a huge factor though he'd prefer to stay on the West Coast all things being equal.
Commenting before reports came out today that Trent Johnson was leaving Stanford for the LSU position, Singler said he had been seeing increasing interest from, and had made a solid connection, with Stanford's Johnson.
"I really like the Stanford coach," said Singler. "He's a funny guy, him and me are a lot alike."
THIS SUMMER, when basketball recruiting truly shifts into overdrive with the beginning of AAU play, Singler will be playing for Portland's Team Jones. Improvement on knocking down the outside jumper is high on his list of summer goals.
"They've (college recruiters) said I need to work on my outside shooting, my dribbling skills. They've said I have pretty much have everything else, but when you get to the next level, you have to create on your own and you have to hit that open shot. I'm going to be working on my shooting this summer -- a lot.
"They think I'm that tough player on the floor that does all the little things and helps make the team a whole. Defensive rebounds, steals, tough (play) on the floor."
SINGLER IS ALSO drawing recruiting interest, as is his cousin Mitch Singler, for football.
Early interest has come from Oregon and Oregon State, and Cal has also been in contact.
"Oregon State has been emailing me (for football) and they kind of see me not really as a tight end..but as a receiver-type," he said.
E.J. Singler profile