WSU Hoops Preview: Cougs look to build on best season in a decade

Nov 7, 2022, 9:30 AM | Updated: 11:04 am
WSU TJ Bamba...
WSU guard TJ Bamba drives down the court against Oregon State forward Glenn Taylor Jr. on Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)
(AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — The WSU Cougars had their best men’s basketball season in a decade last year, but coach Kyle Smith lost most of that team to graduations and transfers.

No problem, Smith has recruited another deep roster of talented players for his fourth campaign on the Palouse.

Last year, the Cougars finished 22-15 and reached the NIT semifinals, where they lost to Texas A&M. They were fifth in the Pac-12 at 11-9.

But the only returning starters are guard TJ Bamba and forward Mouhamed Gueye. Bamba averaged 7.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season, while the 6-foot-11 Gueye averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman and is poised for a breakout season. He was named to the Pac-12 all-freshman team.

Also back are reserves DJ Rodman, Andrej Jakimovski and Carlos Rosario.

The team lost leading scorers Michael Flowers, an all-Pac-12 second team selection, and Tyrell Roberts, plus big contributors Noah Williams and Efe Abogidi and role players Jefferson Koulibaly, Ryan Rapp, Matt DeWolf and Will Burghardt.

With so much turnover, Smith brought in 10 newcomers, including Saint Mary’s transfer Jabe Mullins and Tennessee transfer Justin Powell.

The Cougars got some bad medical news in recent weeks.

Myles Rice, who redshirted last season, announced recently he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and will be sidelined indefinitely as he battles the cancer.

Three days earlier, center Dishon Jackson announced he will be sidelined indefinitely as he works through an unspecified medical issue. It’s too early to tell if Jackson will return this season, Smith said.

The 6-10, 250-pound Jackson appeared in 49 games over the past two seasons, starting 19.

“It’s going to change the way we play, for sure, because he was kind of the anchor in our low post,” Smith said. “He doesn’t want to make a big deal about himself. … We’re rooting for him to get back as soon as he can.”

With Jackson out, the Cougars will turn to newcomer Adrame Diongue and Gueye, who tested the NBA draft waters this year, Smith said.

“Mouhamed has a good feel,” Smith said. “He’ll be that sleek 4. We’ll downsize a little bit out of necessity and play him at center, utilize some of his versatility there.”

Diongue signed with WSU this offseason and is the Cougars’ No. 2-rated recruit of the past two decades, according to

“He came in with a lot of expectations, just off of his recruiting,” Smith said. “He’s slender, so it’s going to be tough, but he’s got a really good feel on both sides of the ball. Really good quickness.”

Forward Mael Hamon-Crespin is a native of France with deep international playing experience and is expected to come off the bench.


Smith is in his fourth season, and has seen steady improvement in what had been a moribund Washington State program. He has a 52-44 record at WSU, including 25-33 in the Pac-12. Attendance at Beasley Coliseum was 3,100 last season.


The only seniors on this team are Ben Olesen and Rodman, who is the son of former NBA star Dennis Rodman.


Diongue, who is from Senegal, is the only 7-footer on the team. Gueye, also from Senegal, is 6-foot-11.


Washington State has not been to the NCAA Tournament since making appearances under former coach Tony Bennett in 2007 and 2008. The Cougars have appeared in the tournament only six times in program history.


WSU plays No. 5 Baylor in the Coast-to-Coast Challenge in Dallas on Dec. 18. They also have nonconference games against Boise State, UNLV and will play in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over Christmas.

More men’s basketball previews: UW Huskies | Gonzaga


WSU Utah...
The Associated Press

Worster scores 19, Utah outlasts WSU 67-65 in overtime

Rollie Worster scored 19 points, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, and Utah defeated the WSU Cougars 67-65 in overtime.
1 day ago
UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer...
Brent Stecker

Bowl Games: UW Huskies vs Sark, Texas in Alamo Bowl; WSU to LA Bowl

The UW Huskies will get an intriguing matchup against their former coach in the Alamo Bowl, while WSU is headed to the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.
1 day ago
The Associated Press

Dante leads Oregon Ducks past WSU Cougars in 2nd half 74-60

N'Faly Dante scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half when Oregon used a 13-2 run to jump start a 74-60 win over WSU in a Pac-12 opener.
4 days ago
Apple Cup Michael Penix Jr....
The Associated Press

No. 12 UW Huskies outlast WSU Cougars 51-33 in Apple Cup

Michael Penix Jr. threw for 484 yards and had five total touchdowns and the No. 12 UW Huskies reclaimed the Apple Cup with a wild 51-33 victory over WSU.
9 days ago
WSU TJ Bamba...
The Associated Press

WSU makes program record 19 3s, beats Detroit Mercy 96-54

Jabe Mullins scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting and WSU hit a program record-tying 19 3-pointers to beat Detroit Mercy 96-54.
10 days ago
Apple Cup 2021... Staff

Podcast: Apple Cup preview with CFB analysts Michael Bumpus, Brock Huard

Listen to Brock Huard of FOX Sports and Michael Bumpus of Pac-12 Network break down Saturday's big Apple Cup between the WSU Cougars and No. 12 UW Huskies.
10 days ago
WSU Hoops Preview: Cougs look to build on best season in a decade