The Washington State Cougars were out of basketball scholarships to offer recruits next season.
But if there is one word that describes WSU’s program these days, it just may be unselfish – from on-court play that led to a 26-8 record last season to an off-the-court action that may lead to success in future seasons.
Starting guard Taylor Rochestie, a junior, announced Thursday that he will give up his full-ride scholarship – worth more than $25,000 – for the 2008 season, freeing up a spot for an incoming freshman.
The same day, Marcus Capers, a 6-foot-4 wing from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, near Orlando, declared he was going to attend WSU next season.
“I’ve been speaking with Coach (Tony) Bennett for a few months,” Capers said of his decision, “and I researched the school and I liked everything I (found). I came up to visit and I just like the little small college town.
“And playing in the Pac-10 ain’t that bad either.”
Capers played for Lake Region High in Eagle Lake, Fla., as a junior, where he was named the Winter Haven News Chief newspaper player of the year after averaging 17 points, six rebounds and four assists a game.
“He’s a tremendous athlete who can slash and finish at the rim,” said Montverde Academy coach Kevin Sutton, who led Montverde to a 30-0 record and a No. 4 national ranking by USA Today last season. “He has a solid jump shot that will keep the defenses honest. He’s definitely a player who can play in the Pac-10 and make an impact his freshman year.”
No matter how good Capers is, he wouldn’t be headed to Pullman if it weren’t for the generosity of Rochestie.
“I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I could help the team out,” Rochestie said in a school release. “After I talked with my dad about it, I knew it was a no-brainer.
“The recruits that I’ve met are exciting, athletic and are special kids. To be able to set something up for the future and to continue what we’ve got going means the world to me.”
“This is such an unselfish act and just shows how gracious he and his family are,” WSU coach Tony Bennett said. “I think this shows how much of a leader and great teammate Taylor is and for him to want to do something like this to help establish the future of our program in this manner is just incredible.”
The Cougars had four scholarships available for next season with the graduation of seniors Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill, and one carried over from last season, although the money went to incoming freshman Charlie Enquist for the current year.
With the commitment of guard Klay Thompson earlier this week, those four spots were filled. Guards Nick Witherill and Michael Harthun and forward James Watson had all committed to sign with the Cougars earlier. The first day a 2008 recruit can sign a letter of intent is Nov. 14.
But with an assist from Rochestie, who averaged 1.9 per game on the court last season, there was a scholarship available for one more recruit.
“I told Coach Bennett to tell Taylor thank you,” said Marcus Capers’ father Jerome. “I was just overwhelmed and taken by his unselfishness to help my son out. I know when we came up there on the official visit, Taylor took a liking, him and Daven Harmeling, to Marcus, they talked to him a lot.
“We’re just really appreciative of what he did.”
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