PULLMAN – Wednesday night’s historic 33-point loss at the hands of Oregon put Washington State AD Pat Chun in the drivers seat with the announced dismissal of head coach Ernie Kent no more than 24 hours later.
CBS College basketball insider Jon Rothstein broke the story Thursday evening.
Kent succeeded Ken Bone in Pullman, though that title comes only as a technicality. The only success WSU saw in Kent’s tenure was the short-lived Wooden Legacy Tournament victory in 2017 – or perhaps the red hot two-game win streak over the Arizona schools in early February of this year.
WSU is on the hook for $4.2 million by the year 2022 per Kent’s contract agreement with then-AD Bill Moos. The Cougars now join the UCLA Bruins as the only two Pac-12 programs with vacancies at the head coach position.
Kent’s lasting legacy at WSU won’t be a great one, and it will likely be worsened by his $1.4 million salary that has fans feeling swindled. In the grand scheme of WSU hoops, his all-time record of 58-98 (22-68 in conference play) ranks approximately last.
Our friends at CougCenter have a great analysis of that here.
But that’s old news. Looking forward, two questions should linger in minds of the Cougar faithful:
Who is transferring out?
Incoming Wichita State transfer Chance Moore still plans on donning the crimson and grey next winter per his twitter account. Along with him is JuCo transfer Ryan Murphy who confirmed his intentions to stay a Cougar with CSN staff writer Jamey Vinnick Thursday.
Not the same can be said for sharpshooter Carter Skaggs, however, as rumors of his option to transfer have spread rather quickly even before the news of Kent’s dismissal. Multiple students within Skaggs social circle at WSU have vocalized his intent to leave with CSN staff.
Additional question marks surrounding integral pieces on WSU’s roster such as standout freshman CJ Elleby, sophomore Marvin Cannon, forward Jeff Pollard, and the point guard duo of Jervae Robinson and Ahmed Ali are certainly of justified concern. At this point, nothing is for certain.
JuCo transfer Daron Henson declined to comment on his status.
Who will be named the next head coach at Washington State?
It’s hard to say really, but you almost have to argue any mid-major coach with proven success should get a look. It’s not to say that WSU isn’t a destination, but the program hasn’t won a conference tournament game in a decade nor have they even competed for the lowly NIT since the early 2010’s.
Anyone who is young, passionate, can relate to kids (a great indicator of a good recruiter), and committed to proving themselves in college hoops fits the bill. And oddly enough, WSU has one in house.
Yes, look no further than assistant coach Ed Haskins. He’s somewhat of a legend in the social circles of Washington – or rather Seattle – basketball.
He joined Washington State’s staff in 2017, so the lack of favorable outcomes can’t be pinned to his name. In essence, to associate Haskins with the recent train wreck of Hoops on the Palouse would be flat out wrong.
Promoting an assistant coach to the head man sounds illogical for a struggling program, but the man can flat out recruit – proven by the fact that Elleby wears crimson rather than purple. Not to mention, Garfield High School (Seattle) went 213-34 in a nine-year span under his reign.
He’s won back-to-back state championships (3A 2014, 4A 2015) and coached NBA talent in the form of Tony Wroten, Isaiah Thomas, Spencer Hawes, Terrance Williams, Nate Robinson, and Jamal Crawford.
Just something to chew on.
CSN writer Jamey Vinnick will have more on the coaching carousel and were WSU fits into the circus later this week.
(Top photo: Jack Ellis – Cougar Sports Network)