BY Todd Dybas 02:19PM 04/18/2011

WSU’s Thompson all but gone

The Pac-10′s leading scorer from a season ago declared for the NBA Draft on Monday. Though he won’t hire an agent, Thompson sounds like he’s doubtful to return. That leaves Washington State in big trouble next season.

Klay Thompson declared for the NBA Draft on Monday. He will not hire an agent. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

After smacking Washington in Hec Edmundson Pavilion for the Cougars’ second win of the year against Washington, Klay Thompson explained he was not surprised.

“I think we have just as much talent if not more,” Thompson said.

Not anymore.

That’s because Thompson joined DeAngelo Casto in his intention to leave school and test the NBA draft. Though there are key differences.

Casto, the Cougars’ third-leading scorer and leading rebounder, is gone whether he’s drafted or not. Thompson said Monday that he will not hire an agent, using the minute window available to college underclassmen to “test the waters” and learn about what NBA teams think of him.

“I’m not going to hire an agent just yet because there’s really no point,” Thompson said. “I can take a couple of workouts and see where my stock’s at in the league.”

The possible and likely departure of Thompson, the son of former No. 1 pick Mychal Thompson, leaves Washington State without its top scorer. Thompson led the Pac-10 with a 21.6 point per game average in 2010-11. His 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists were indicative of the expansion of his game.

Thompson still has poor body language at times. He’s also a questionable defender. But the 6-foot-6 junior has stunning range that will easily translate to the NBA.

He said he will need to get stronger to contend in the NBA. Thompson also said his arrest for possession of marijuana last season had no bearing on his decision to enter the draft.

Thompson thinks, rightly, that he can be drafted in the first round. That means guaranteed money.

“That would be hard to turn down,” Thompson said. “I think if I play hard and go in there just being aggressive, I’ll get a good feel where I’m at.”

Washington State had an up-and-down season that finished with a demoralizing loss to Wichita State in the NIT semifinals. The Cougars were able to beat arch-rival Washington in two of the three games the teams played last season. Thompson scored 43 points in the loss to the Huskies in the Pac-10 Tournament.

Washington State coach Ken Bone said in the past that the team was built with the anticipation that Thompson would leave early. He reiterated Monday that was the reason Faisal Aden was brought in last season. Bone also said that transfer and former Rainier Beach standout Michael Ladd should help fill in for Thompson.

Thompson said he plans on finishing this semester, another necessity to retain eligibility, while working out for NBA teams. He would need to withdraw from the draft by May 8 in order to retain his senior year of eligibility at the school. He left that option open, but admitted he is leaning toward leaving.

“I think I’m ready and have a great opportunity to fill that dream, so why not take it?” Thompson asked.


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