Johnson staying at WSU; plus signee updates

BEN JOHNSON, a close friend of Tony Bennett's since childhood, has elected to remain at Washington State as an assistant men's basketball coach. Ken Bone, Bennett's replacement as head coach, made the announcement Thursday afternoon on KJR radio of Seattle.

WSU's two other full-time assistant coaches, Matt Woodley, as previously reported on CF.C, and Ron Sanchez, will not be part of the new coaching staff.

"But," Bone said with Ian Furness on Thursday afternoon, "I'm really, really excited about being able to retain Ben Johnson, who I also have a lot of respect for. He's done an outstanding job there. He's been very involved with the defense. He's intense. He's detail-oriented. He's a good guy."

Bone said he "anticipates having a couple of the guys" off his Portland State staff join him in Pullman. One candidate is Tyler Geving, whom Bone said interviewed Thursday for the PSU head coaching position.

Sanchez decided to follow Bennett to Virginia after meeting with Bone yesterday.

"It would have been nice to keep him there (at WSU)," Bone said. "He's a great guy. He's done a great job there...He's well connected right there at Washington State. He knows all the ins and outs. He did a nice job with the team, did a nice job with recruiting and everything else, but that's why he's leaving. Tony recognized that and brought him with."

Bone said he's had "good discussions" with all four of WSU's signed recruits, but only Spokane's Anthony Brown to date has made a firm commitment to honor his signed national letter of intent.

Bone, as CF.C reported earlier this week, plans to visit heralded California high school point guard Xavier Thames on Saturday.

"I think we'll be fine with him," Bone told Furness.

Bone said he may fly to Australia in two weeks to meet with Cougar signee Brock Motum. Johnson, who played and coached in the pro ranks in Australia, has been a key recruiter in that country for Washington State. Bone said he spoke to Motum and his father on the phone last night.

WSU's other signed recruit is David Chadwick, an all-state forward from North Carolina whose father is a close friend of Bennett's. Bone said he may fly out to North Carolina to meet with Chadwick as well but Chadwick today confirmed he has received his release from WSU.

Chadwick said he sought his release because coaches could not contact him directly without the release."I'm still very interested in Washington State," Chadwick said Thursday night in a telephone interview from Charlotte.

Washington State Athletic Director Jim Sterk had said previously in the days before before Bone was hired that WSU would not release a recruit from their Letter of Intent for 2-3 weeks.

Bone also told Furness that he is confident all the current WSU players will remain in Pullman. Asked specifically about Marcus Capers, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, he said he was confident all three are on board.

Bone noted that he spent 35 minutes with Capers in his office yesterday and felt "real good" about the conversation. He thought Capers was excited about the future of Cougar basketball.

Bone also said that he believes Harthun will be an outstanding player for WSU. Harthun, a sharpshooting guard from Salem, played sparingly for the Cougars as a ture freshman this past season.

You can listen to the entire interview at http://www.950kjr.com/pages/ianfurness_page.html

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