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The Scholarly Spotlight: WSU Cougars

For a lot of programs in college basketball, there was a lot of turnover that forced them into a transition period. A team like the Washington State Cougars fit this description really well. This off-season they lost four out of five of their starters and just under 50% of their roster due to the transfer portal or the NBA Draft. With eight new players added to the roster, the 2023-24 Cougs will look to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

The Cougs re-loaded their roster once again adding players from the transfer portal, and a freshmen class with tons of potential to succeed. Their transfers are headlined by players like Jaylen Wells (Sonoma State), Isaac Jones (University Of Idaho), Oscar Cluff (Australia) and Joseph Yesefu (Kansas). Yesefu is the most decorated transfer coming to the Palouse after winning a National Championship with the Kansas Jayhawks in 2022. He started three games last season with the Jayhawks so he will in theory get more opportunity to fill WSU's point guard vacancy and increase his 4.7 ppg average. He is a proven scorer at all spots on the floor and that is a skill WSU needs this season.

Although Wells is from a small school in California, he is not shy at showcasing his offensive skill. He averaged 22.1 points while grabbing 8.7 rebounds per game. Wells is also an efficient shooter after shooting 52.3% from the field and 86% from the free throw line. Coming off the bench, he could earn a spot in the starting five by the middle of the season due to his elite scoring ability. Jones is coming from just across the street in University of Idaho as a grad transfer. Like Wells, he provides his elite scoring ability and rebounding to another school on the Palouse after averaging 19.4 points, and 7.8 rebounds last season. Jones also has the potential to start and he could very well enter a situation on the team where his name is called.

The freshmen class is headlined by Rueben Chinyelu, Parker Gerrits, Isaiah Watts, AJ Lebeau, and Spencer Mahoney. Chinyelu hails from Nigera, with recent success at the NBA Academy in Africa. He joins WSU hoping to be another success story from the NBA waters to enter the league after getting some college experience under his belt in the Conference Of Champions. Chinyelu should start for the Cougs and he has the potential to improve as a prospect before the NBA Draft, and fill a much needed role with his elite post game.

Among the returners hoping to make a massive impact are senior guards Andrej Jakimovski (YAK-I-MOF-SKI) and Jabe Mullins, redshirt freshmen guard Myles Rice, and sophomore guards Dylan Darling and Kymany Houinsou (KAY-MON-Y WHO-IN-SUE). Rice will be playing his first game in over a year after missing all of last season fighting a cancer battle. He will likely come off the bench with Houinsou and Mullins but he offers veteran leadership that could earn him a starting role. Jakimovski looks to be the lead guy for the Cougs this year hoping to represent North Macedonia in the NCAA Tournament this season. Head coach Kyle Smith begins his fifth season at WSU, hoping to finally turn the corner towards success for Cougs basketball.

The Washington State Cougs tip-off their season at home against the University Of Idaho in the "Battle Of The Palouse" tonight, November 6th, 2023.


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