WSU men’s basketball picked eighth in the Pac-12 preseason poll

Kyle Smith (Photo: USAToday/Swinger)

PULLMAN — Washington State men’s basketball was picked to finish eighth in the preseason media poll released Wednesday. On the surface, it is probably a fair spot considering WSU’s top four scorers from last season are gone. On the other hand, the only two departures that really hurt WSU are Efe Abogidi and Michael Flowers. What does draw some questions are a couple of the teams WSU is behind.

Stay tuned, we’ll have more from Pac-12 Media Day coming up a little later

Picked to finish sixth, Colorado also lost its top three scorers. Arizona State was picked to finish seventh despite being fairly tumultuous under Bobby Hurley and Stanford was selected to be fifth, with a surprising first place vote as well. The Cardinal do return a lot from last season but have a winning record in conference play just once under Jerod Haase (2017-18 in a down year for the Pac-12).

UCLA was picked to win the conference, with 26 of 33 first place votes. Arizona and Oregon were picked second and third, respectively, with a trio of first place votes as well. USC checked in as the fourth team. Behind WSU in the poll, UW was picked ninth, Utah 10th, with Cal and Oregon State rounding things out.

WSU is coming off of its best season in a decade at 22-15 and 11-9 in Pac-12 play. WSU tied for fifth in the Pac-12 and advanced to the NIT Final Four. Of course, this Cougar roster looks far different than that one, with Abogidi off to the G-League, Flowers graduated, four additional transfers and Dishon Jackson out with a medical issue. WSU has six new faces which could be a contributing factor to the uncertainty around its poll ranking.

That said, the Cougars brought in a high-profile freshman in Adrame Dionguetwo critical transfers in Justin Powell and Jabe Mullinsand have one of the best big men in the conference returning in Mouhamed Gueye. If TJ Bamba and Andrej Jakimovski make big strides and the freshmen are ready to go, WSU should outplay that No. 8 pick.

Under Kyle Smith, WSU has taken great strides. Now the next step for Smith and the Cougars will be making it to the NCAA Tournament, something that has not been done since 2008.

The Cougars open the season on Nov. 7 against Texas State at 4:30 pm in Beasley Coliseum. In one of the weirder scheduling quirks, the Cougars play just three home games in the non-conference slate, with a pair of neutral site games in Boise and Spokane and multiple tournaments as well. The Cougars begin Pac-12 play on Dec. 1 in Eugene in Oregon at 7:30 as part of the pair of early conference games the Pac-12 has built in. WSU’s home leg of those two games will come against Utah on Dec. 4.

Related: Kyle Smith sees seven in rotation, but others lurk

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.