Cougs add new talent to fill out basketball roster

Diongue, Powell round out excellent additions to 2022 roster



WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye (left) and guard Michael Flowers (right) celebrate after defeating UW 78-70 in Beasley Coliseum, Feb. 23.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU basketball ended its 2022 season by losing 72-56 to Texas A&M in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament, a tournament for the top teams not selected for the March Madness tournament.

It was WSU’s first time in the NIT since 2011. The Cougs have yet to appear in the March Madness tournament since their Sweet Sixteen  exit in 2008.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, WSU bid farewell to graduating senior Michael Flowers, who is currently training for the NBA Draft. Flowers averaged 14.2 points and started all 37 games for WSU. He also hit a school record, 100 three-point shots, breaking the previous record held by Klay Thompson.

Along with the departure of Flowers, the Cougs also lost six other players.

Tyrell Roberts transferred to San Francisco; Noah Williams headed home to Seattle to play for the Washington Huskies; Efe Abogidi is currently in the transfer portal and is rumored to be headed to the NBA G League to play for the G League Ignite; Jefferson Koulibaly transferred to Southern Methodist University; Ryan Rapp transferred to the University of Hawai’i; and Tony Miller is in the transfer portal.

The most important news for the Cougs offseason was freshman forward Mouhamed Gueye.

Gueye first announced he was putting his name into the NBA draft, then shortly after he put his name in the transfer portal. Gueye pulled his name from the NBA draft on June 1 but remained in the portal.

At the time Gueye was in the portal, WSU did not have any of their five main starters from last season still on the team. However, several days after he took his name out of the draft, he announced he was returning to WSU – a big relief for all Coug fans.

With the departure of nine players, four of them 2022 starters, the Cougs needed to have a big offseason, and they did just that. WSU added three signees to the 2022-23 season as well as two transfers from the portal.

The first offseason signee was 6’2” guard Dylan Darling from Central Valley High School.

Darling averaged 33.2 points a game on 55% shooting as well as 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.4 steals per game. His high school team went 18-8 his senior season and appeared in the state 4A basketball tournament.

Darling was the 4A Player of the year and was named the Greater Spokane League MVP. He scored 58 points in a February game against North Central to break the league’s single-game scoring record.

Darling is set to provide insurance at the point guard spot, and the sharpshooter is set to have an offensive impact this coming season, trying to replace the scoring left from Flowers, Roberts and Williams.

Almost a month after Darling’s commitment, WSU got their third four-star recruit in the past three seasons with Adrame Diongue.

The seven-footer from Senegal played in Chandler, Ariz. for AZ Compass Prep.

Diongue chose the Cougs over offers from Kentucky, Kansas and LSU. Diongue hopes to create a frontcourt partnership with friend Gueye, and expects to make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball.

Last season, Diongue averaged 11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Compass Prep had a 2022 record of 24-5 and ended their season as the top-ranked team in Arizona. Compass Prep also competed in the GEICO Nationals for a second straight year.

Diongue is the second-highest recruit in program history, trailing only Thompson. Diongue will look to fill the role of Abogidi for the Cougs and make an impact on the boards for WSU. He will also look to extend the floor to give more looks to Gueye and Dishon Jackson down low.

The last signee for the Cougs comes from France: Maël Hamon-Crespin, a 6 foot, 9 inch, 235 pound forward. He has not been ranked yet, but received offers from Oregon State and BYU before ultimately making his decision to join WSU.

He last played in the INSEP program in France and quickly emerged as a star – even though he is only 17 years old. Other basketball athletes from the INSEP program in France who now play in the NBA include Tony Parker, as well as Joel Ayayi and Killian Tillie.

Hamon-Crespin is a great passer for his size and position and is a willing outlet passer who can rebound the ball to make a quick outlet to lead to easy transition offense.

The young player is still developing most of his game, including his three-point shot – his percentages from three this past season were not the best, but the form and ball rotation is there. It is only a matter of time before he dials the shot in.

His playing time this next season will be unknown with forwards Diongue, Gueye and Jackson all expecting minutes, but look for Hamon-Crespin to make an impact when his number is called.

The Cougs last two additions came from the transfer portal. The first transfer to be added to the Cougs roster is Jabe Mullins.

Mullins transferred from Saint Mary’s, where his production was not what he was expecting. He did not get the offensive game he was looking for.

Mullins is a sharpshooter and hit 39% of his threes when he took them. He is a 6 foot 6 inches guard from Snoqualmie who was recruited out of high school by WSU.

Mullins played at Mount Si for high school and even played AAU basketball with NBA star Zach LaVine. He has excellent shooting form with unlimited range from beyond the arc, and will be an easy choice for instant offense and will get many catch-and-shoot threes in Kyle Smith’s offense.

The latest transfer to join the Cougs is another 6-foot 6-inch guard, Justin Powell.

Powell joins the Cougs as a transfer from the Tennessee Volunteers. Powell started at Auburn University, then transferred to Tennessee where his playing time dwindled as the Volunteers had other guards to take up the minutes.

When he went to Auburn, Powell was a top-100 recruit, according to ESPN, but was never really given the chance to lead the team offensively. When he went to Tennessee, it was more of the same.

Powell is looking to join the Cougs and be the main ball handler and facilitator and replace Flowers.

With most of the Cougs, Powell is an excellent long-ball shooter and will join Mullins, Darling and Andrej Jakimovski to round out the spectacular lineup of shooters the Cougs will have next season.

The mix of Diongue, Powell and Mullins will fit in the roles of Flowers, Roberts and Abogidi, with Darling and Hamon-Crespin coming off the bench for major production.

This star combination should lead the Cougs to success in the 2022-23 season when WSU hopes to make a run toward the March Madness tournament.