On we go through the 2011 COTY Bracket!
(2) Klay Thompson
When we last left Coug of the Year, Jeshua Anderson's first round matchup came to us shortly after his third NCAA 400-meter hurdles championship in four years. Now we find Klay Thompson's name called on the eve of his NBA Draft selection. I'm not doing it intentionally, but I seem to be stacking the deck against our lower seeds.
It's great to be excited about the NBA draft for reasons other than Bill Simmons' annual draft diary. And with the downfall of Steven A. Smith, we lost the greatest thing about Steven A. Smith's NBA draft coverage - the Steven A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen. ESPN has tried, but the entertainment value and the drama of the Association's draft have consistently failed to match the NFL's product in recent years. Needless to say, I haven't payed much attention to my television on draft night since waiting through the second round for Kyle Weaver's name to be called.
I know many of us, myself included, wanted Klay to play out his senior season, but I've always held a certain belief about players declaring for the draft early. That belief is: If you are confident you'll be a lottery pick, you should go. Period. Plain and simple. Your stock can usually only go down from the lottery in your final year(s) of college (hey, Jeremy Pargo!) and being projected in the lottery means you're also guaranteed to be a first rounder, which in turn brings guaranteed first round money. If you're borderline first round, don't even bother keeping your name in the draft. Finish college, because a slip to the second round means you lose the guaranteed cash as well as an opportunity to make yourself more marketable by dominating the college ranks during your final season.
This is why Klay Thompson made the right call, and Isaiah Thomas most certainly did not. At least from my viewpoint.
How will we remember Klay? I think I'll always remember his individual game fondly. One of the best to ever play for Washington State; arguably the greatest, given how popular and how skilled the game is today. Still, there's a bittersweet feeling about his time as a Cougar. The team never made a NCAA Tournament in his three years, and the marijuana arrest provides a cloud of scrutiny over his final year of school, not to mention his draft stock. It really shouldn't, though. It seems obvious to me Klay isn't some closet stoner; he's a smart kid who worked hard on and off the court and just made one dumb mistake like thousands of other young people have. Klay's redemption came from his gutsy apology to the crowd on Senior night, and then a win in his final game in Pullman over Northwestern. A victory that sent WSU to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals of the NIT.
That NIT tournament run was such a fitting microcosm of the Klay Thompson era - a wonderful ride that just never managed to end the way we all wanted it to.
(15) Reid Forrest
Let's set aside the hyperbole for a moment, and just focus on how ridiculously outstanding Forrest was at his job at WSU.
Over 40 yards per punt every year. Over 45 as a senior. We'll round up and call it three (!) 3,000 yard punting seasons. An 84 yard punt! You can easily make the argument he's the best to ever play the position at WSU. And the only reason there's an argument to begin with is because Kyle Basler summoned the punting gods (and possibly the actual God) to do his bidding against Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
Here's to you, Reid. We saw way too much of you these last four years, but thank God you at least made watching all of your punts enjoyable.