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Commentary on Pac-12 developments on and off the court …

Rising: Washington State basketball

The Cougars have lost a slew of key players to the NBA Draft or transfer portal this spring, with a shell of a roster left in their wake.

But good news finally appeared on the scene in the Palouse — two pieces, in fact.

First, forward Mouhamed Gueye on Tuesday reversed course and returned to WSU after spending one month in the portal. The 6-foot-11 sophomore is a bit raw but one of the most physically gifted young big men in the conference.

Given standard year-over-year development, he should be an impact player next season on both ends.

Also on Tuesday, the Cougars bolstered their backcourt with the addition of Tennessee transfer Justin Powell, a rotation-level player whose career began two seasons ago at Auburn, where he shot 44 percent from 3-point range before a season-ending injury.

(Because the move to WSU is his second transfer, Powell’s eligibility in 2022-23 is not guaranteed. He must apply for a waiver from the NCAA.)

In our view, Gueye’s return solidifies the Cougars as a mid-level finisher in the conference race next season, along with the likes of Colorado and Stanford but behind the four favorites: UCLA, USC, Oregon and Arizona.

While the frontline looks solid, WSU seemingly lacks the backcourt skill and depth to push for a top-tier spot — at least right now.

Coach Kyle Smith likely isn’t finished tinkering with his perimeter unit after losing top scorers Michael Flowers, Tyrell Roberts and Noah Williams.

Neutral: Oregon State’s administration

The Beavers have a new president, and the Pac-12 has a new board member.

The university’s Board of Trustees this week named Jayathi Murthy as the new boss on campus following a year-long search.

Murthy seems well qualified on the academic side, but the Hotline, as always, is far more interested in how the hire could impact Pac-12 football.

After all, the Beavers aren’t bringing 40,000 people onto campus six times each fall to watch an engineering lecture.

It’s too soon to draw conclusions on Murthy’s interest in, and willingness to commit resources to, football. But our initial reaction is decidedly mixed based on her career trajectory.

Murthy spent the previous six years as the dean of engineering at UCLA, where she worked for an administration that has proven itself deeply indifferent to major college football.

(Were the Hotline to rank the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors based on football indifference, UCLA’s Gene Block would be the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Pac-12 stock report: Oregon State’s new boss, USC’s big loss and (basketball) roster upgrades for the Washington schools

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