The New Pirate Of The Palouse


Technically speaking, the WSU men’s basketball team won the final official NCAA game last season, therefore making them National Champions. It could be time to get the party started, baby. Let’s crack some Busch Lights, take flight for some foamy keg stands, and set our crimson shorts ablaze.

Ok …

Obviously, I’m kidding, but that season-ending blowout of Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament could prove a sign of things to come on the Palouse.

Last year, albeit a .500 record on the dot with a 16-16 mark. The Cougs basketball team became a respectable in-conference foe for the first time since the Klay Thompson era.

And the wins keep rolling in around the golden hills that surround Pullman. WSU hoops recently signed a 4-star prospect in forward Andrej Jakimovski, which boosts the Cougars recruiting class to third in the Pac-12 and 30th nationally.

Now, let’s not just read over that stat like that’s a little thing here. This is likely the best recruiting class WSU has had since Johnny Appleseed was brewing up his homemade hard cider.

To put this into perspective, in 2019, WSU had the 11th-worst class in conference, good for 99th nationally. The year before that, they had the worst class in the Pac-12 and fell to 157th nationally. The Cougs have not had a 4-star recruit in over a decade, and in the history of the entire program, the school has only had six combined recruits of this caliber.

And the craziest thing about it is, they actually have another 4-star commit to the program in Carlos Rosario. 

Now look—in this day and age, a commitment from a recruit is about as reliable as men’s room hands-free soap dispensers. But the fact that they’re garnering this type of attention from prominent players is a clear indicator that coach Kyle Smith has something brewing in Pullman.

There are some articles where I try and come from a third-person, or second-person viewpoint. But I can’t act like I’m not over-the-top excited about the prospects of the Cougars actually making the NCAA Tournament.

Dude … I just said NCAA Tournament and Cougs in the same sentence …

Just hearing that out loud my brain felt confused.

There is a chance next year that WSU has CJ Elleby, Isaac Bonton, Noah Williams, Jakimovski, and Rosario all on the roster. This grouping of players is not only good enough to earn a bid to the big dance, they actually would stand a chance at making an outside run at the conference title.

But before I get ahead of myself here, this is still reliant on Elleby returning to school and forgoing the draft process, and Rosario officially signing with the program.

Regardless of what happens the remainder of the offseason, this is arguably one of the most exciting times in the history of WSU hoops. Coach Smith has quietly changed the face of the program overnight, at a historically breakneck pace.

Maybe the Coug faithful has found a new Pirate of the Palouse.


About Author

Hello there ya wild rabbits. My name is Nick Bartlett and I’m a sportswriter, broadcast manager, and youth basketball coach. I’m from the Greater Seattle Area and a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow school at Washington State University. I’ve had over 50 articles and 10 podcasts published in Seattle PI, and my work featured on OregonLive, SportsPac12, and South Florida Tribune. You can contact me at or on twitter @WordsByBartlett. Cheetos and Tuna.

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