#103 Washington State Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Washington State Cougars
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #103
Conference Rank: #11 Pac-12
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Year one of the Kyle Smith era resulted in the most wins in a single season for Washington State since 2011-12. The Cougars still failed to finish above .500 for the eighth consecutive season, but this year has potential to break that streak. Only four rotation players are confirmed gone from last year, and the Cougars welcome a quality freshman class to the roster. The late decision by CJ Elleby to stay in the NBA Draft will hurt, but there is still enough talent returning for Washington State to compete. The next step for Smith and Washington State is becoming legitimate competitors in the Pac-12, which was certainly possible in 2020-21 if Elleby had elected to return to school.
2019-20 Record: 16-16, 6-12
Coach: Kyle Smith
Coach Record: 16-16 at Washington State, 180-138 overall
Key Departed Players:
CJ Elleby, Junior, Forward, 18.4 ppg
Jeff Pollard, Forward, 8.7 ppg
Jervae Robinson, Guard, 5.9 ppg
Marcus Cannon, Guard, 3.8 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Isaac Bonton, Senior, Guard, 15.3 ppg
Tony Miller, Senior, Forward, 7.7 ppg
Noah Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 6.2 ppg
Aljaz Kunc, Junior, Forward, 4.5 ppg
Volodymyr Markovetskyy, Sophomore, Center, 2.1 ppg
DJ Rodman, Sophomore, Forward, 1.7 ppg
Ryan Rapp, Sophomore, Guard, 1.6 ppg
Key New Players:
Efe Abogidi, Freshman, Center
TJ Bamba, Freshman, Guard
Dishon Jackson, Freshman, Center
Andrej Jakimovski, Freshman, Forward
Jefferson Koulibaly, Freshman, Guard
Carlos Rosario, Freshman, Forward
The decision by CJ Elleby to remain in the NBA Draft dampens the Cougars’ outlook for the 2020-21 season. Elleby earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors as a sophomore behind 18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Elleby’s return would have put Washington State in position to compete for an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cougars will definitely have Isaac Bonton back to build on his strong junior campaign. Bonton averaged 15.3 points, 4.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals last year. His points and assists marks were both top 11 in the conference, and he’ll be a dark horse candidate to be an all-conference player as a senior. Tony Miller battled injuries last season, but he managed to average 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 16.6 minutes per game. Noah Williams started 13 of his 29 games as a freshman, averaging 6.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in only 21.7 minutes per game. Williams showed great potential in his first year and should be a key factor as a sophomore. Aljaz Kunc started 18 games early in the season before moving to a reserve role down the stretch. Volodymyr Markovetskyy was rarely used as a freshman but the 7-footer from Ukraine should play a bigger role as a sophomore. Lastly, DJ Rodman and Ryan Rapp return as extra experienced reserve players. Washington State does have a solid freshman class coming in, currently ranking 31st by 247sports’ consensus. Their class includes Andrej Jakimovski and Carlos Rosario who are both four-star forwards ranked in the top-150 nationally. They also welcome four more three-star prospects, including 6-10 center Dishon Jackson who is ranked in the top-200 nationally. Elleby’s NBA decision hurts, but Kyle Smith still undoubtedly has Washington State headed in the right direction and another step forward should be expected this season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.8 (215th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.7 (186, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.7 (335, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.9 (273, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (160, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.9 (298, 12)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.3 (72, 2)
Rebound Margin: -0.8 (216, 9)
Assists Per Game: 11.6 (289, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (97, 4)