The number of transfers from the program are too long to list. The last hope of the team is a scarcely used forward turned NBA prospect named Robert Franks. And unless a new collection of junior college prospects and “long, athletic” players scattered across the Washington State roster are truly as good as head coach Ernie Kent claims they are, the Cougars may be in for another disastrous year in Pullman.
Another disastrous year that would undoubtedly - and I mean even with consideration of Kent’s awful contract extension - force Washington State to finally part ways with Kent.
It’s never the ending that any program wishes for, especially not when they signed the veteran head coach to the aforementioned contract extension last year, which will mean the Cougars will pay Kent at least $1.4 million each year until 2022. For a coach who’s won just 18 of his 72 Pac-12 league games since he took over in 2014, how Kent is seen as a must-have for Washington State, may give a deeper insight to the shortcomings within their own athletic department.
But looking forward to the 2018-2019 campaign, there is one strong bright spot in Pullman.
Forward Robert Franks, who returned to campus this summer after testing NBA Draft waters, is expected to lead the Cougars squad for the first time in his career. Around him, he’ll be flanked by returning guards Viont’e Daniels and Carter Skaggs, two serviceable contributors, and then an absolute wealth of unknown commodities.
The problem for Kent and the Cougars is that most of these “unknown commodities” will have to contribute from the get-go, for better or for worse. While talents like point guard Ahmed Ali, a transfer from Eastern Florida State College, look ready for the lime-light, transitioning to the Pac-12 level is a tall task for even the most proven of junior college play-makers.
The Cougars are also expected to be a team reliant on a “three-and-D” mentality, which can sometimes have short legs for teams who become too one-dimensional with the ball. Will Washington State knock off someone with their long-ball mind-set? Most definitely. But consistency is the name of the game more times than not in college basketball and that’s something the Cougars simply don’t have in their arsenal at the moment.
Player To Know: Robert Franks (Forward)
Keeping the fact that I am a Pac-12 “homer” in mind, there’s no doubt that forward Robert Franks has emerged as one of my truly favorites players in the conference. Franks started just one game for the Cougars through his first two seasons in Pullman, before emerging as a legitimate all-league talent during his junior campaign. The 6’ 7” swingman averaged 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, which was head-turning enough to immediately grab the attention of NBA scouts. With another strong season, Franks could turn himself into a potential 2019 NBA Draft pick, with his ability to shoot the ball from range and defend at multiple positions.
3 Key Non-Conference Games
- 12/1 at New Mexico State
- 12/22 v. San Diego* (Las Vegas Classic)
- 12/29 v. Santa Clara* (Spokane)