Gueye, Powell declare for NBA Draft

Both starters will test pro waters



WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye drives toward the hoop during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Utah, Dec. 4.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

Since the last two Cougs – Dishon Jackson and TJ Bamba – declared their departure into the transfer portal, two more have also put out declarations about their futures as Mouhamed Gueye and Justin Powell both entered the NBA Draft.

The NBA Draft is the highest goal of a college basketball career, a chance to play the sport they love professionally in the U.S.

Powell, the Cougs’ starting point guard, was the first of the two to declare on March 28, according to a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Powell just finished his third year of college ball, having transferred to WSU after a season at Auburn and a season at Tennessee. Powell was not meant to be the point guard and his natural position is shooting guard, but after Myles Rice was unable to play as he battled cancer, it seemed like Powell would need to step up. Fortunately, he was ready.

WSU guard Justin Powell dribbles the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Texas State, Nov. 7.

Powell played the most minutes per game of anyone on the team and was fourth in the Pac-12 in total minutes. Shooting 42% from three and scoring 10.4 points per game, Powell was a fundamental part of the offense. Meanwhile, he was no slouch on defense, using his 6-foot-6 frame to defend both guards and forwards.

While he has not been the focus of most of the NBA buzz around the Cougs this season, these are all traits that the NBA likes and will be looking for in the evaluation process. 

It is important to note that Powell is maintaining his college eligibility by not hiring an agent and has already transferred twice. This means he is allowed to return to NCAA ball if he does not like what he hears from the NBA or if he wants another year to make his case to the league, but he is not allowed to freely re-enter the transfer portal.

Powell was a huge part of the Cougar offense and defense this year and the outcome of his draft declaration will be important for the Cougs next year.

Mouhamed Gueye was next to declare and he did so via a long social media post.

“The past two seasons at Washington State University have been instrumental in my development both on and off the court. I owe a special thank you to all my teammates and coaches.” Gueye wrote in his statement,“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine and after speaking with my loved ones. I have decided to enter my name into the 2023 NBA Draft.”

Gueye’s two years here may have been short, but they were memorable. Gueye was second on the team in scoring and grabbed 8.3 rebounds per game en route to leading the Pac-12 in double-doubles. He was the Cougs’ best player on both ends and his injury late in the year is likely a big part of the reason the Cougars lost back-to-back games to close the season.

WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye jumps for a dunk during an NCAA basketball game against UW, Feb. 11, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Gueye declaring for the draft was a near certainty from the very beginning of the season, seeing as he also declared last year. This time is different, though, as he did not enter the transfer portal. Last time, Gueye entered the portal but was one of the rare returnees from the portal. 

Maybe this bodes well for the Cougs’ chances at keeping him, as he is also maintaining his NCAA eligibility. If he sticks around and develops further while being allowed back to his natural position of power forward, he could have a breakout season next year and potentially skyrocket from his current position as a projected late-second-round pick, currently hovering around the 50–55 range on most lists.

The deadline to reenter college and exit the draft is June 1.

No matter what he or Powell decide, they were both part of something special here in Pullman. If they stick around, March Madness is certainly possible and both could become WSU legends by leading Wazzu there. If they do not, Cougars everywhere will cheer them on in their professional pursuits, hopefully as they join Klay Thompson and Malachi Flynn as Cougs in the NBA.