WSU lands first transfer, Division II All-American Jaylen Wells

Cougars hope to replace Bamba with a new star



WSU guard TJ Bamba goes up for a shot during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Oregon, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

The transfer portal goes both ways, thankfully. So far this year the Cougs have lost leading scorer TJ Bamba and (I have to assume) best run blocker Jack Wilson to the portal. Now, they see the first new arrival through the portal, and he might just be the best yet.

Jaylen Wells announced his verbal commitment to Washington State on Tuesday after two years at Sonoma State University, a Divison II school in the California Collegiate Athletics Association. 

Wells broke out last year at Sonoma State, averaging more than 22 points per game while grabbing 8.7 boards. While it came against less skilled competition than he will face in the Pac-12, Wells clearly has the tools to be successful at a Division I level, according to WSU head coach Kyle Smith.

“As a basketball player, Jaylen is a 6-tool guy,’” Smith said. “He can play multiple positions. He can dribble, pass, drive, shoot, defend and rebound. He’s a late bloomer that has a big upside. We’re really excited to have him at WSU.”

Wells is exactly the kind of player the Cougs will need if they are going to replace the production Bamba and Mouhamed Gueye brought last year. Most intriguingly, Wells made a huge jump in shooting percentages between his freshman and sophomore seasons. In his freshman year, he shot 40% of the field, 26% of his threes and 71% of his free throws. Stepping into the star role last season, he improved to 51% from the field, 43% from three and 86% of his free throws.

The upside of a guy like Wells is massive, especially now that he has shown an ability to improve. Gaining experience at the Division I level could see Wells develop into a serious star. He certainly has the potential.

Cougs fans should be greatly anticipating his arrival to the Pac-12 next season. This team needs to improve to be a serious tournament team, and this is exactly how they can do it. If Wells is what he looks to be, he really could be the piece that takes the Cougs to March Madness next year.