Future Coug is healthy -- and bigger

BRANDON EVENSON, the basketball coach at Ephrata High, says the phone started ringing when Tony Bennett announced he was leaving WSU. Arizona was on the line. And Cal, plus USC and most of the Big Sky Conference. In eight days, when the early signing period in college hoops recruiting begins, the relative success of those calls will be clear: Ephrata senior Patrick Simon is going to be a Cougar.

"As soon as he can sign the (letter of intent) with WSU, he will," the coach told CF.C last week. Technically speaking, that would be Nov. 11 at 7 a.m.

Simon has grown two inches and gained 25 pounds since earning All-State recognition en route to helping Ephrata win the state 2A title as a sophomore in 2007-08. He now checks in at 6-9, 205, says Evenson.

"Patrick works hard on and off the court," Evenson said. "He runs hard, he lifts weights hard, he's committed."

And how's the right foot that sidelined him for all of last season, his junior year, due to a stress fracture?

"We're really excited about this season," said Evenson. "Patrick is healthy. Over the summer, he averaged about 25 points per game on our school team and his traveling team ... The foot gets stiff and will for awhile, which is normal, but it should be as strong or stronger."

Before the injury, Simon was rated 4 stars by Scout.com analysts and tabbed the No. 12 small forward prospect in the nation. He's now at 3 stars and rated No. 43 at his position.

Evenson said he's moving Simon to shooting guard this season after a career at forward. "He can flat out stroke the ball. In our state title game, he hit a couple from 35 feet. He's smooth with the ball, and he never stops moving on offense."

Bottom line, Evenson said, Simon is a gamer. "He'll do whatever is asked of him. On defense, he's a great shot blocker – he has great timing and reach. And he's an excellent rebounder. He's a very versatile player who can probably play either the 3 or the 4 in college. His inside game has really come on.

"I think he'll make the transition (to Pac-10 ball) nicely. He'll need to adapt to the speed and physical nature of a court full of bodies as big or bigger than he is, but he'll no longer have two defenders on him at all times either. He has the tools to contribute right away."

As for the post-Bennett sweepstakes surrounding Simon, Evenson said his star player listened to the other schools. But Simon found Ken Bone and his staff most compelling. Indeed, after reaffirming his commitment to Washington State following a visit to Pullman this past April, Simon told CF.C that he was excited about the Cougars' future under Bone. And he likes the system.

"In coach Bone's offense, he needs shooters, he needs scorers. And I fall into the category …. Just like my high school team, they're going to play fast-paced, with a lot of opportunities to score," said Simon.

As a 14-year-old Ephrata freshman, Simon made news around the state when he verbally committed to play ball at Washington State. In doing so, he became the youngest verbal commit in any sport, ever, at WSU.

RECRUITING ROUND-UP:

With only one senior (Nikola Koprivica) on the roster and the maximum 13 scholarships spoken for, Simon would figure to be the Cougars' lone signee in the 2010 recruiting cycle. However, there have been rumblings in prep circles that WSU isn't done yet with this class. Whether that proves true remains to be seen, and would of course require that a scholarship slot somehow open up.

Bone can't name names until LOIs are signed, but he told CF.C last week that he expects to sign one player for sure during the early signing period. But could there be another player, either in the early signing period or the spring signing window?

"It's possible. It's kind of a wait-and-see ... whether we bring another guy in," he said.

A number of 2010 prospects whose names have been connected to WSU at one time or another over the last year or so appear to be off the table. Josh Huestis, a 6-7 forward from Great Falls, Mont., looks to be headed to Stanford, USC or Harvard. Jordin Mayes, a 6-1 guard from Los Angeles, sounds like a heavy lean toward Boston College, though his father says things will remain open for the foreseeable future. LeBradford Franklin, another guard from southern California, has had Marquette and San Diego State out front but doesn't plan to make a decision until after the season. 6-5 guard Joe Harris of Chelan has verbally committed to Virginia.

Other prep seniors who have been mentioned in the same breath with Washington State in this recruiting cycle are 6-9 forward Jordan Railey of Beaverton, Ore., and 6-3 guard Emerson Murray of Vancouver, BC. Neither is believed to have verbally committed to a school.

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