Now that Klay Thompson has made official what we all considered inevitable for some time -- c'mon, you know that even you optimistic people expected this -- and is staying in the NBA Draft, it's a new day for WSU basketball.
We'll do plenty of looking ahead in the coming days, weeks and months, but I can't help but look back for a moment before we move on. I'm still wrapping my brain around how Thompson will be remembered, and I think I still need a few days to completely sort out my feelings now that he's definitely gone.
There is one thing, however, I'm sure of: The 2008 recruiting class that Thompson was a part of will go down as one of the most disappointing in school history.
I can't make any grand declarations about whether it's the most disappointing in school history, because frankly, I'm just not that old. But it's certainly the biggest disappointment of my tenure as a Coug, which is now going on 15-plus years. In terms of unfulfilled potential, it's off the charts.
Consider the following. It was a six-man class coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. It was supposed to be the foundation that would launch WSU from flash-in-the-pan to perennial Big Dance participant under Tony Bennett. With Bennett bolting for Virginia after just their freshman year (I'll have more thoughts on him in the coming days, too), it finished with just one of the six actually making it to his senior year and zero NCAA Tournament appearances.
(Yes, I realize that could change next year. But ... well, yeah.)
In table form:
|Marcus Capers||Still Enrolled||Still around, which is a victory. Still basically the same player he was as a freshman, which is not. Can he develop an offensive game and reclaim some of this class' honor?
|Klay Thompson||2011||The biggest standout in the class, likely would have gone down as the best player in school history with one more year. Still, no complaints. He was a stud for three years.|
|DeAngelo Casto||2011||Also a very good piece. Could have used another year in school to refine his skills, but left a year early for whatever reason you want to believe (kid, grades, etc.)|
|Michael Harthun||2010||Was considered the jewel of the class until Klay blew up his senior year. Proved in two years he could not play at this level, transferred to Portland State.|
|James Watson||2010||Team definitely could have used him this year, but he flunked out and had to transfer. Will play at K-State next year after one-year JUCO stint.|
|Nick Witherill||2009||Nice kid who never belonged on a Division I roster in the first place. Transferred to D-II Grand Canyon University.|
So many expectations for these guys, and really just one NIT to show for it. (I don't count the 2009 NIT. They were freshmen, and only Thompson truly saw important minutes on that team, Capers' last-second shot against UCLA notwithstanding.)
How will you remember this class? I'm particularly interested in those of you who are of an older generation -- can you think of a more disappointing group when compared to expectations?