How was Klay Thompson, who is a lock to be named to the All-Pac-10 freshmen team next week, overlooked by so many West Coast schools?
“He was a late bloomer who got better and better as the summer wore on, and certainly as his senior year wore on,” WSU coach Tony Bennett said Tuesday.
By the time Thompson really blossomed most Pac-10 schools, including Washington State, were out of scholarships.
On July 4, 2007, Inglemoor guard Mark McLaughlin became the third guard to commit to WSU, saying at the time he was “really impressed with Tony.” The good impression must have worn off quickly, though, because McLaughlin backed out about a month later.
With another scholarship in hand, WSU knew exactly where to go.
“We went guns-a-blazing after Klay,” Bennett said.
WSU knew it had a good shot because the rest of the conference was out of ammo.
“Most of the Pac-10 schools were done (recruiting), as were we up to that point,” said Bennett, who added Michigan and Notre Dame were interested. “We had seen Klay and really liked him that summer, but we were full. When (McLaughlin) decommitted, that opened up a scholarship.
“Having one late was why we could really pursue him.”
Defending the point
Another WSU freshman, 6-foot-4 wing Marcus Capers, has made a big difference recently, taking over the role of defending the opponent’s point guard.
Capers, from Florida, has enough quickness to guard a smaller player and his long wingspan – he’s blocked eight shots – allows him to erase mistakes when a guard gets by.
“(Point-of-attack defense is) something he can really give us, when he’s locked in and energetic,” Bennett said.
But Capers, who has started three of the last four games, is shooting just 26.4 percent from the floor, with the majority of his 14 baskets coming on drives to the hoop.
“Marcus will have to go to work this off-season and develop his shot,” Bennett said. “Will he become a Thomas Kelati or a Klay Thompson? Probably not. But he can become more confident and become more consistent. His form is not bad.”
One Cougars assistant coach said this week Capers is a better shooter as a freshman than Kyle Weaver was. Weaver, who is shooting 45 percent from the floor as a rookie in the NBA, hit 2 of 22 3-point attempts as a freshman (9.1 percent) and 24 of 66 (36 percent) as a senior. Capers is 0 for 7 beyond the arc.
Gonzaga sophomore Austin Daye broke Ronny Turiaf’s single-season blocks record. Daye swatted two shots against USC Upstate on Tuesday to bring his season total to 60. Turiaf blocked 59 in 2005.