Simon weighs in on WSU future; Sterk speaks

FUTURE COUGAR Patrick Simon, a 2010 class member who is rated the No. 12 small forward in the nation, says he was stunned along with everyone else to lean that Tony Bennett was leaving Wazzu -- he also weighed in on his future with Washington State.

Simon says he will reserve ultimate judgment until he gets a chance to see who Washington State hires but that his commitment to the Cougars remains intact.

"It was a big shock...But at this point nothing has changed, I'm still committed to WSU," said Simon.

"I just want to be clear that nothing has changed so far. There's a lot to consider and think about but I haven't changed my mind about anything."

Simon, who verballed to WSU when he was just a 14-year-old freshman, was an All-State selection as a sophomore for the Class 2A state champion Ephrata High. He missed this past season with a stress fracture in his right foot.

Simon said he hasn't yet tried to reach anyone at Washington State but plans to soon. He said he had not heard from Bennett though that may have to do with NCAA recruiting parameters and the fact he's only a junior.

"I think he called all of his recruits that are coming in this year but I haven't heard from him," said Simon.

MEANWHILE, IN RELATED news, WSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk today told Ian Furness of KJR Radio that WSU would not release any 2009 basketball recruits from their signed letters of intent for the next three weeks or so. Sterk said he wants the dust to settle a bit, to hire the new coach and have a period for the new coach to get acquainted with the recruits before he would even entertain the notion of letting a recruit out of the signed LOI.

So far, one of the four athletes in WSU's 2009 class -- point Xavier Thames -- has publicly asked for his release.

Sterk expressed enthusiasm for Terry Porter as a candidate for the head coaching job but said he had not talked with the former Bucks and Suns coach, nor any other candidates.

Sterk again refuted the report in a Spokane newspaper that said Bennett was disappointed WSU would be cutting back on charter flights for the basketball team to away games. Totally untrue, said Sterk. (Not only is WSU not contemplating any budget changes for next year, the Cougars have seen an increase in their operating budget for hoops in the last six years by 1.6 million. Washington State also had more road game charter flights than any team in the Pac-10 conference and Sterk said UW had none.)

Sterk said he talked with the Cougar players and remarked about their resiliency, saying they were joking around and laughing. He had the players elect one upperclassman and one underclassmen (Nikola Koprivica and Abe Lodwick) in order to keep open the lines of communication between him and the players. The players are also talking to the incoming recruits and keeping them abreast of the situation. Sterk has also been on the phone with the incoming recruits' parents in order to allay some of their concerns.

Klay Thompson told Sterk he was staying. Asked about Capers and Casto, Sterk said they're Cougs and want to be at WSU.

Sterk talked about the bright future at WSU and said in-state recruiting is improving, saying WSU is now getting the "Anthony Browns out of Spokane who can help us right away."