#30 / Guard / Washington St. Cougars
Journalism and/or Sport Management
South Medford HS
You wouldn't think a young player with a career high of three points in a game would have the opportunity to make an impact this season. Mike Harthun does.
Our two Oregonian sophomores, in fact, stand to benefit the most out of anyone from the transition to Ken Bone and the increased reliance on the three-point shot. One is Abe Lodwick, whom I previewed earlier, and the other Harthun, who made almost half of his field goal attempts from behind the arc last winter.
It's debatable whether or not Tony Bennett should have burnt Harthun's redshirt. He only appeared in 14 of the team's games in 2008-09, and only took 18 shot attempts the entire season. Oddly enough, his most prominent appearance came in the Cougars' final game of the season against Saint Mary's, where he logged fourteen minutes. He went 1-for-2 from three-point range and provided a little bit of a spark off the bench.
Harthun's transition to college ball has been a little rougher than the other freshmen from Tony Bennett's final year. He was in the dog house early, earning a three-game suspension for a "violation of team rules". That violation was almost undoubtedly his brush with the law for suspected marijuana possession. Although no formal citation or charges were ever filed, the incident was a setback for both his playing time and development, and it showed as Harthun lurked in the shadows up until the final game.
Nevertheless, there's a lot of potential in Harthun, and all he really has to do is complete that adjustment to the next level. He was already a phenomenal prospect in high school - more impressive than a comparable Oregon player currently starting at Oregon: Garrett Sim. He was part of the South Medford team that defeated Kevin Love's Lake Oswego team for the Oregon 6A championship. Harthun averaged 22.7 points and 5.4 assists per game his senior season, and was rated a Top 100 prospect by espn.com. There was a lot of hype surrounding Harthun, and with Bone at the helm, we may begin to see the 6'3" guard live up to it.
Best Case Scenario: Harthun emerges as a solid role player at guard, with the ability to knock down shots, pass the ball, and take pressure off freshman guards Xavier Thames and Reggie Moore. Mike scores in the five to ten point per game range, and possibly earns a start or two depending on the opposition. He rains threes in Bone's system, giving us a streaky shooter off the bench in the mold of a Josh Akognon.
Worst Case Scenario: Like so many Cougar sophomores, the worst case scenario is a repeat of last year statistically. If Harthun can't continue that adjustment to the speed and skill of the college game, his minutes will suffer and he'll find himself sitting on the pine behind Moore, Thames, Capers, Lodwick and Koprivica.
Likely Scenario: I could honestly see either of the above scenarios playing out for Harthun, who has the skill to be an impact player for WSU in stretches, but also the weaknesses that could keep him on the bench for extended period of time. My belief is that we see the Harthun from the Saint Mary's game: about 15 minutes a night, some helpful threes, improved defense and a few surprise drives to the basket. He looks smaller than he actually is at 6'3" - part of that is due to the fact we've recruited so many tall guards and forwards in the past couple seasons. Harthun has surprising quickness that will almost certainly be an aid in a more up-tempo system. Look for Harthun to make a name for himself this season, and maybe crack the starting lineup if the other young guards struggle.