Washington State men’s basketball snapped its 10-year post season drought when it earned a No. 4 seed in the NIT. The Cougars will host Santa Clara at Beasley Coliseum in the first round.
The Broncos are lead by junior guard Jalen Williams whom led the team in points per game (18) and assist per game (4.2). 6’7″ forward Keshawn Justice is another player to watch for Santa Clara. Santa Clara is coming off of a season where it finished third in the WCC with a 21-11 record; St. Mary’s bounced them out of the WCC Tournament in the semifinals, 75-72.
As for WSU, the Cougs finished the season with their most wins since Thompson was on the roster. The computers loved Washington State as Kenpom and the NCAA NET rankings consistently had them in the top 65 throughout most of the season. And that’s probably a huge reason why Kyle Smith’s squad is hosting a game in the NIT, despite a lack of Quad 1 wins on the resume.
This is the first time the Cougs have been in the NIT since they made a run to its final four with Klay Thompson, DeAngelo Casto, and Reggie Moore back in 2011. It is also the Cougars first post season tournament since the 2012 CBI — in which they lost the Finale two games to one against Pitt.
For a group of players that are this young and this talented, the tournament experience is going to be invaluable for the continued development of the program under Kyle Smith.