High school freshman decides to play at Wazzu

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Ephrata High School freshman Patrick Simon has decided to play college basketball at Washington State, after he graduates in three more seasons.

The Cougars on Monday made a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-7 Simon, who is only 14 and presumably still growing.

Simon, 14, leads his team in scoring and rebounding and orally accepted the offer from the Cougars, who are ranked ninth in the nation in a breakout season.

"I've thought about it quite a bit and it all came to how good they've been doing this season, they're No. 9 now, and how coach [Tony] Bennett really made the team a top team," Simon told The Spokesman-Review.

"I decided right from the beginning that if I was going to commit to a school that I wasn't going to back out of it," he said. "That's how I think about it. And it is kind of scary to think about it, that I'm only a freshman and it's a long ways away."

His high school coach, Brandon Evenson, said Simon is on par with the best players he's seen out of central Washington.

"This kid, he's special," Evenson said. "And he only can get better.

"He can flat-out score from anywhere on the floor," Evenson said. "He's the type of kid that's going to play defense and fit into Coach Bennett's system nicely."

Simon's father, Jerry, is superintendent of the Ephrata School District and a WSU alumnus for both undergraduate and graduate work.

"We're really happy that he's agreed to play for WSU," Jerry Simon said. "Tony Bennett is a fine, Christian man. I've been to WSU and watched some games and so forth and I've seen how well he treats his players."

Bennett has not seen Simon play in person, but assistant coach Matt Woodley saw him play in the last week before the Cougars offered the scholarship. No one from the program can comment on Simon's commitment until he signs a letter of intent, which would happen in fall 2009 at the earliest.