Basketball

The revolving door of Washington State Men’s Basketball

Every year Washington State hoops fields fresh names and new faces. The only constant? A low winning percentage and the head coach.

Ernie Kent addressed the media Friday afternoon for his weekly press conference less than 15 hours after forward Arinze Chidom announced his option to transfer out of the program.

Chidom – a redshirt sophomore – was listed at 6 foot 9 and carded a pair of starts just eight games into the season. A contributing player averaging 3.3 points and 3.4 boards per game, this marks yet another investment gone awry for Coach Kent.

According to some statistical breakdowns from Theo Lawson at the Spokesman Review, WSU has lost 17 players since 2014. That’s good for third most in the Pac-12 behind Arizona State (20) and Utah (18).

Additionally, our friends over at CougCenter calculated that 71 percent of Kent’s recruits between 2014 and 2016 will end their college career wearing a jersey not reading Washington State.

“This is not an Ernie Kent problem. This is not a Washington State problem. I don’t quite frankly think it’s a college basketball problem, cause I think it’s a societal problem.”

Ernie Kent

According to 2017 report by the NCAA (last updated July 2018), the percent of  college basketball transfers has steadily increased for athletes going from one 4-year program to another since 2010. The same report – as quoted by Kent – said 40 percent of all student-athletes entering Division I directly out of high school will play for another university before the conclusion of their sophomore year.

Kent by the numbers is right and wrong. College basketball has become player centric courtesy of a trickle down effect from the NBA, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. WSU, while not the worst, still checks in at an alarming higher rate than the overall national average of 27 percent.

WSU has continuously invested in the future by tagging young players with heavy minutes only to see them depart. The large turnover has left the Coug’s investments yielding sparse long term returns which in place has forced Kent to seek after JuCo products to fill the eminent gaps.

A big slap to the face, six of WSU’s transfers came to the Palouse from a junior college – not high school. These athletes have an extremely limited amount of time left in their college edibility yet still saw better opportunity elsewhere.

The program who cycles through players like a revolving door has carded an 18-54 conference record under the current head coach. And while it is understood Ken Bone benefited from Tony Bennet era recruits, it’s painful to know Bone’s .319 winning percentage in conference play somehow still outshines that of Kent’s .250.

We all know the ins and outs of Kent’s contract over the next four years with 5.6 million guaranteed, so the possibility of the head coach taking after his former players practice and jumping ship is equally unlikely as his termination. But Kent did say in 2014 that he prides himself in building basketball programs; something fans are beginning to call a bluff.

As for today, the Cougs flash a young star in CJ Elleby. The true freshman flexes some of the highest basketball IQ Pullman has seen since Klay Thompson roamed Friel Court.

The Seattle native is averaging 13.8 points, 6.8 boards, and 3 assist per game on 46 percent from the floor. With 7 starts on the season and nearly 28 minutes per game, Washington State basketball will be Elleby’s program in the near future following the departure of Robert Franks.

So Mr. Kent, prove us wrong. We all suggest you start with retaining your most valuable asset moving forward – CJ Elleby.


The entirety of the NCAA’s 2017 transfer report can be found here.

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