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12 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball: Washington State Cougars Preview

After the disastrous tenure of Ernie Kent, the Cougars are starting over from scratch.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State Cougars

  • Head Coach: Kyle Smith (1st Season) | Overall: 0-0
  • Last Season: 11-21 (4-14) | Post-Season: None
  • Pac-12 Preseason Poll: 11th (47 Points)

Projected Starters

  • Marvin Cannon - (Guard - Junior)
  • Isaac Bonton - (Guard - Junior)
  • CJ Elleby - (Forward - Sophomore)
  • Deion James - (Forward - Graduate)
  • Jeff Pollard - (Forward - Senior)

The Skinny

Washington State is in the middle of a huge transition. Head Coach Ernie Kent is gone, after never finishing above 13 wins in his five seasons. In his place the Cougars have hired Kyle Smith. Smith has had solid tenures at Columbia and San Francisco, winning the CIT with the former and getting to the CBI a couple times with the latter.

He’s got a big rebuild ahead of him. Most of Washington State’s top scorers from last season are gone, including Forward Robert Franks, who led the team. Also gone are Ahmed Ali and Viont’e Daniels, meaning the Cougars have lost 3 of there top five performers in minutes and scoring.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Stanford
Washington State forward CJ Elleby is one of the Pac-12’s more unheralded stars.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Smith does have a few pieces to build around. G/F CJ Elleby was the team’s number two scorer in his freshman season, with 14.7 ppg. He has a great all around skill set, leading the team in steals and 3 point percentage, and also served up 18 blocks. It was a phenomenal season for a freshman, and he looks to be the center of whatever Smith is putting together in Pullman.

Returning Shooting Guard Marvin Cannon (7.9 ppg) and Forward Jeff Pollard (4.8 ppg) have starting experience, and both will be expected to have much larger roles. After that, the Cougars will be relying on some key transfers that Coach Smith convinced to come to Pullman. Perhaps the most important is Isaac Bonton, a Point Guard who played last season for Casper College, and previously played for Montana State.

There are a few more interesting newcomers coming to the Cougars, but one that’s going to catch a lot of notice is DJ Rodman. Rodman, the son of Dennis, is a Small Forward with an excellent shot, and one of the first high profile recruits Smith convinced to join Washington State.

He also landed an excellent grad transfer in Deion James James was a starter at Colorado State, but missed last season with an injury. James and Bonton give the Cougars some D1 experience, but this is going to be a radically different team than last season. After the Ernie Kent era, that’s probably a good thing.

Four Non-Conference Games To Watch

  • 11/7 v. Seattle
  • 11/25 v. Nebraska* (Cayman Islands Classic)
  • 11/26 v. Old Dominion/George Mason* (Cayman Islands Classic)
  • 12/7 v. New Mexico State* (Spokane, WA)

15 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball Countdown