I realize I’m a few days late with this story, but it’s still grating on me. I’m finally ticked off at Tony Bennett.
I wasn’t mad when the former Cougar basketball coach left Pullman, seemingly out of nowhere, to take the job at Virginia in last March. He gave WSU three of the greatest seasons in the program’s history, including two NCAA Tournament berths and a trip to the Sweet 16. He spent six years total in Pullman.
And in the world of college coaching, where most strike while the iron’s hot (Mark Few excluded), how can you blame a guy for wanting to make several hundred thousand dollars more per season and go to a top notch university with brand new facilities that competes in arguably the best conference in college basketball?
But now that he’s in talent rich ACC country, why can’t he keep his mitts off the scarce homegrown talent here in the Pacific Northwest?
If you haven’t heard already, Bennett secured a verbal commitment earlier this week from Chelan High School’s Joe Harris, the reigning 1A state player of the year. Harris is a 6′6″ guard who averaged 25.7 points per game for the Goats (one of my favorite mascots) as a junior. His stock has risen even higher with his play for the Seattle based Friends of Hoop AAU team. He had reportedly received offers from WSU, Washington, St. Mary’s, Brigham Young, San Diego and Portland. Gonzaga and Notre Dame had also shown interest.
To be fair, Bennett first recruited Harris while at WSU and reportedly traveled to Chelan to visit him in person. And maybe the Goats’ star fits the Bennett system.
But come on Tony, are you telling me you couldn’t find five more kids just like Harris in the mid-Atlantic, where basketball players seem to grow on trees? He’s already landed two other commitments recently, besides Harris.
This kid would have been a great get for new head coach Ken Bone and the Cougars. And having another player from Eastern Washington, let alone one with a silky smooth jump shot, would only help increase the fan base.
What kills me is that Harris was apparently deadlocked between Virginia and WSU. But UVa’s outstanding academic reputation might have made the difference.
“You have to have something to fall back on, and Virginia is a first-class school,” Harris told the Wenatchee World.
That academic reputation is also part of the reason Bennett left Pullman for Charlottesville.
But with recruiting being so much easier at Virginia, because of the academics, the town, the facilities and the conference, why couldn’t Bennett have let Harris go to WSU and leave a little good will for the Cougar nation?
Popularity: 1% [?]