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WSU basketball: Who's leaving, who's staying, and why

Four of WSU's key players have entered the transfer portal this season, leaving many fans anxious.

PULLMAN, Wash. — It’s been quite a 48 hours for college basketball in our region, as Gonzaga received two commitments on Sunday from transfer center Efton Reid and Class of 2023 guard Dusty Stromer.

However, it wasn’t just Gonzaga receiving news. 

News broke Monday morning that WSU freshman forward Mouhamed Gueye put his name into the transfer portal. Then Tuesday morning news broke that they had received a commitment from Class of 2022 center Adrame Diongue.

It’s been a crazy few weeks for the Cougs, so we’re checking in with where this program is right now and their future.

WHO'S OUT (MOST LIKELY)

Let’s start with the squad’s first notable transfer. 

Noah Williams went in the portal on April 5. This wasn’t super shocking as the Cougar guard struggled in his junior campaign, especially after he was named a preseason All-Pac-12 player. He eventually transferred to UW. 

On April 12, forward Efe Abogidi put his name in for the NBA Draft. A lot of people, including myself, thought okay, test the waters, come back to school. On April 15 though, the first alarming moment happened: Abogidi announced he was also entering the portal. It’s been two weeks since he’s left, and all we’ve heard from his camp is that he’s considering other places. I just don’t see him coming back at this point. 

Then on April 25, Mouhamed Gueye declared for the NBA Draft. Once again, this felt like an Efe move where he would go get some advice and then return to the Cougs. As we mentioned before, Gueye then entered the portal this Monday.

On April 29, there more unexpected transfer news as shooting guard Tyrell Roberts, who started 31 games last year, also entered the portal.

It’s important to note that players who enter the portal can still return to their schools, however it doesn’t happen that often. We also have yet to hear from Gueye or Roberts about why they have submitted their names.

WHO'S LEFT

If you add in Michael Flowers, who doesn’t have any eligibility remaining, the Cougs are losing an insane amount of experience. This team played 37 games last season, which meant 185 opportunities players to start. 155 of those starts are currently either graduating in Flowers, have already transferred in Williams, or are in the portal in Gueye, Abogidi, and Roberts. 

The players left who started games this past season are as follows: guard TJ Bamba, who started 16 games, center Dishon Jackson and forward Andrej Jakimovski, who started six games apiece, and forward DJ Rodman who started the other two. Not a lot of experience there. 

TJ seems like he has one of the guard spots locked up for sure, and I could see Jakimovski starting in the three-guard position. Jackson could easily start at 5, which he did a lot of his freshman season. He just struggled with injuries this year. Rodman will continue to be a great sixth man. Point guard Myles Rice has received some buzz too as he redshirted this year, but I don’t see him being ready to start after not playing a minute of power five basketball. 

The Cougs received good news on Tuesday that four-star recruit Adrame Diongue had committed to the program. The 7', 185 lb center could have an immediate starting role for the Cougs alongside Jackson in the post if Gueye doesn't return to the Cougs. He's only been playing basketball for three years but is the #81 recruit in the Class of 2022 per 247Sports and is WSU's second-highest rated recruit ever behind Klay Thompson. I expect him to make an immediate impact in WSU's frontcourt, no matter if he's starting or coming off the bench.

As for other players coming in, Central Valley’s Dylan Darling is the only player signed. I think he'll need a year to transition to the Pac-12's level of play. The Cougs received a verbal commitment from Nigerian center Solomon Omuni this past September, but his visa has had issues, so they don't expect him to join the team until the 2023-2024 season. 

In terms of the portal, the Cougs have only been closely associated publicly with Oregon State transfer guard Jarod Lucas, who averaged 13 points per game last season. This would be a big get for WSU, but there are a lot of other high profile programs coming after him right now, including San Diego State and Alabama. 

All and all, there’s still the point guard position to fill if everyone leaves and the players I mentioned taking over full time starting roles actually do so. You also need to have at least one to two more bench players than the Cougs do currently. There’s some definite work to do.

WHO'S BENIFFITTING 

Let’s be clear, there’s never one singular reason why four key players go in the portal. 

For example, it was obvious that Noah just needed a change. 

However, it’s also clear that in the case of at least Gueye and Abogidi, NIL is playing a huge role. 

You may think, “They’re international players and can’t make money on NIL," but see that’s not entirely the case. If the athletes do the work and make the money in their home countries, that isn’t a violation of their visa, so they’re good to go. 

A source told me that Gueye and Abogidi are each worth upwards of $250,000 on the NIL market right now. You add in the fact that agents make 15-20% off of endorsement deals, and it’s no wonder these guys are in the portal. Bigger schools mean bigger money for both the player and the agent in involved. Even if a player does return to school, agents can use the portal to leverage a program to get a player paid more money.

That begs the question, is this something we’re going to see over and over again with rising stars at a place like WSU who just doesn’t have the money of an Arizona or a Kentucky? And my short answer is yes, unless something changes at the federal or NCAA level.

To close this out I just want to say, at least for the time being, don’t get too attached to any player you cheer for at any school. The market is so fluid right now that I would just enjoy the time you have that player, because you just never know where they’re going to be the next season.

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