CHENEY, Wash. — Last week Kim Aiken announced he was officially transferring from Eastern Washington to Washington State, but his journey to the Palouse certainly took some twists and turns over the past month.
Originally Aiken thought that he would be repping a different kind of cat this next school year.
He committed to the Arizona Wildcats the day before Sean Miller was fired, then waited around, but Tommy Lloyd never called.
During that waiting period, Kim was listening to church on a Sunday and realized something while the preacher was talking about David and Goliath.
"Maybe it wasn’t meant for me to go to a top notch school like Arizona, but for me to become a David and go to Washington State," recalled Aiken. "For me and that program to go into those schools and defeat them with what we have. Whether it’s a slight shot or a three point shot, that’s what we’re going to go in there and try to beat them with."
Washington State wasn’t even on Kim’s radar before he originally committed to Arizona. Kyle Smith and company came in hard though once Arizona’s staff change was made and impressed the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.
"You can tell that he’s been watching me," said Aiken of Smith. "That’s something that you really want out of the school you’re going to go to. You want a coach that’s going to know who you are, know how to play you, and how you’re going to fit in there system. Not just go anywhere because of their name."
Smith sees Aiken fitting into their system as a forward, not as a guard like Aiken played for the Eags.
The Big Sky’s leading rebounder last season is just fine with that.
"I’m not going to say I’m out there ball handling the ball like Kyrie Irving every night. I definitely don’t need the ball in my hands to be a factor on the team. If I’m out there just playing defense, rebounding, and shooting open threes, that’s what all he wants me to do, then I’m going to go out there and do it to the highest level," said Aiken.
Another thing that attracted Smith to Aiken? His veteran leadership.
He’ll be a senior on a team that has no other returning juniors or seniors from last year's squad.
"When we were in March, every day I would pick up the plates. The little things. The little things matter. Somebody to just go in there to be that guy to go from teammate to teammate to try build chemistry up," said Aiken of his leadership style.
He hopes that leadership leads WSU to a place no one outside of Aiken currently on WSU’s roster has been: The NCAA Tournament.
"I’m a vampire. I’m thirsty for more," Aiken said of his post season dreams.