It has been a eventful week in Washington State Basketball to say the least. After losing to eventual Pac-12 Champion Oregon last week, Athletic Director Pat Chun elected to dismiss Ernie Kent as head coach of the Cougar Men’s Basketball program.
It had become clear that Kent was just not the right fit for the Cougs and that it was time to move on regardless of the pricy buyout. While WSU searches for their new coach though, a lot of attention has turned to what the future holds.
Between players possibly transferring and the incoming recruits, there is a lot of things to are affected by the firing of Kent. Washington State has three recruits incoming in the form of Ryan Murphy, Daron Henson and Nigel John who all bring something different to the table.
Ryan Murphy, a California native, has two years left of eligibility after transferring from Charlotte to New Mexico Junior College. At New Mexico JC this past year, Murphy averaged 18.5 PPG although he shot just 28 percent from three which doesn’t accurately portray how good of a shooter he is.
While at Charlotte two years ago, Murphy averaged 6.7 points against Division I competition including a 27 point outburst against Old Dominion. Speaking with Murphy on the phone the other day, he made it clear that he was still 100 percent committed to WSU, and that he fell in love with the school and the city. As long as the next coach wants him, Ryan Murphy will be a Cougar in the fall.
Recruit number two on the list is Daron Henson from Salt Lake Community College. A lanky stretch big somewhat in the mold of Robert Franks, Henson averaged 12 points and five rebounds for the junior college power. Like Murphy, Henson transferred from a D1 school as he played for the Utah State Aggies in 2017-18 before departing for SLCC.
Henson played in every game for the Aggies that season, contributing off the bench with his scoring ability. When asked about his future at WSU though, Henson simply offered “no comment”. It’s tough to speculate what exactly that means, but it’s safe to assume that the Kent dismissal had some affect on Henson’s mindset going forward. While he still very well may end up a Coug, his future is a lot murkier than Murphy’s
The third and final recruit is big Nigel John from Lewisville, Texas. The last addition to the recruiting class, John is an old school physical forward who does his work in the paint. The big man averaged just under 17 points and 11 rebounds this past season at Lakeland Christian Academy. John is a gifted athlete with good speed and the ability to absolutely jump out of the gym.
He’s a raw talent but has tremendous upside going forward. Like Henson though, John is a little unsure of what his future holds. In a conversation I had with John on twitter, he expressed disappointment in the dismissal of Kent and said to me that he was assured that it would not happen. John added that he needs more information before making a decision, but that he still hopes to be a Cougar. This would seemingly imply that John still wants to go to Washington State, but that the next coach is going to be a major factor in the decision.
With the three recruits covered, we can garner a little more information on what next year looks like for WSU. Here is the information I have, albeit several things were gathered before the firing of Kent.
Robert Franks, Viont’e Daniels, and Devante Cooper have all been lost to graduation. Additionally, CSN has heard nothing to indicate Isaiah Wade, Jervae Robinson, Aljaz Kunc, or James Streeter intend to leave.
A source within WSU Hoops has told CSN Jeff Pollard is considering his option to grad transfer. The source also said Ahmed Ali is highly likely to depart and that Marvin Cannon was once “50/50” at a point in time.
Carter Skaggs seemed to imply departure via his Instagram story. However, the opposite can be said for Chance Moore as his Twitter implied he is staying.
Moore’s tweet also seemed to indicate C.J. Elleby (#2) may be sticking around, but that’s speculation – nothing is for certain.
Transfer Ryan Murphy told CSN he’s 100 percent committed to playing for Washington State while Nigel John said he’s waiting for more information before making a decisson.
John’s twitter account later expressed that his option to reopen recruitment though he later clarified “WSU is still my #1 option.”
Daron Henson declined to comment on his status.
(Top photo: Jack Ellis – Cougar Sports Network)