Good luck, Klay!

Apr 19, 2011, 7:46 AM

Did you hear? Klay Thompson declared for the draft!

Unfortunately, I didn’t until now. 10:21pm.

You see, I kind of live in a hole at times, and this was one of them. Inundated by work that doesn’t involve Cougar sports, I didn’t look at the internet, watch tv or listen to the radio all day. My wife, who is a great Coug but hardly a hard-core fan, knew about Thompson before I did.

Strangely, I received no texts, no emails and no phone calls.

Why?

I’m pretty sure it was because no one was surprised.

Thompson leaves the door open just a crack by not hiring an agent, which allows him to change his mind up until the 8th of May. His statements at the press conference don’t exactly sound as if he’s really wavering, though: “I’ve had a great time at this institution,” Thompson said. “I’m just ready to play at the next level and test out the process and see what opportunities lay ahead of me. I want to get some feedback, I’m not going to hire an agent just yet, because I don’t see the point. I want to take a few workouts and see where my stock is at in the league and see what I can do.”

If Klay does go, he will leave the school with the 3rd-most points in WSU history with 1,756. His 733 points and 98 3-pointers that he knocked down this season were both school records.

As a star, Thompson had a strange tenure in Pullman. Many loved him, but some could never get over the fact that he was too streaky, wasn’t an on-court leader and that Ken Bone perhaps relied too much on him and he would famously disappear in some key games.

Tony Bennett was able to get Thompson to commit after somehow the Southern California star was overlooked by UCLA and USC. He arrived with far more fanfare than the typical WSU recruit and didn’t disappoint in his freshman season, starting every game, leading the team in 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage, and was second in rebounds, assists and steals. He also ranked third on the team in scoring and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

In his sophomore season, the fanbase began to divide. Thompson racked up the accolades (Twice a Pac-10 player of the week, All Conference 1st Team, USBWA All-District, NABC All-District, Sporting News All Conference 2nd Team) and led the team in points, minutes, steals and 3-pointers. His mid-season inconsistency, though, was something of legend. Thompson had six games in Pac-10 play where he scored over 20 points, but then, inexplicably, had six games where he scored in single digits. In those six bad games, he was more than just bad, he was horrible, going 11-67 and scoring an average of 5.8 points per game.

Klay’s demeanor during the dry spells didn’t help his cause with the fans, as he frequently hung his head, slumped his shoulders and looked defeated.

This season, Thompson was far more consistent, but a lot of fans still carried a bit of bitterness toward him, mostly because they didn’t see a leader in their leading scorer. Thompson shunned the limelight and rarely showed emotion. When the team would play poorly, I think the fans instinctively looked to Thompson to be the team leader that would right the ship. It didn’t appear (on television at least) that he was that guy and it drove some fans crazy.

As Thompson tests the draft waters, I think all fans will wish him well but not all will shed a tear. Those naysayers out there feel that he may be more of a distraction and the late-season pot bust certainly didn’t help things.

Like I said, it’s been a strange tenure.

Personally, I have a feeling that Klay won’t truly be missed until next season is underway and all fans get a sense of just how complete a player that he is. It’s more than just scoring with Klay, he is able to impact the game at every level – rebounding, blocked shots, defense and simply in the fact that opposing teams had to game-plan for him.

Of course, we won’t know for sure until May 8th, but if he does leave, it still helps the program a bit having an NBA 1st round pick coming from WSU. It lets higher-level recruits know that you can come to Pullman and receive good exposure and get to the NBA, whereas you certainly could argue against that in years past. The last player from Pullman to be taken in the first round was Don Collins way back in 1980. Kyle Weaver, in 2008, was the 8th pick of the 2nd round.

I have a feeling that Klay will in fact be a first-round choice and will depart. He’s too good of an all-around player to be passed up.

So Klay, whether it’s a matter of weeks or months, enjoy your remaining college days and no matter what decision you make: GO COUGS! And to all the guys who are left: Time to step up!

Go Cougs!

WSU

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Good luck, Klay!