WSU men’s basketball roster: arrivals

From Africa to Idaho, new Cougs hail from all over



WSU men’s basketball head coach Kyle Smith celebrates after winning the NCAA basketball game against UW, Feb. 11, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU seems to be close to settling into a final men’s basketball roster, with only one scholarship spot remaining. Despite the potential for further change, the team has enough on the table now to really start to see how they are going to come together when the season starts.

A number of departures make for a number of arrivals to replace them. With these newcomers coming from a number of locations and avenues, head coach Kyle Smith is looking to rebuild the team from last year with different faces and new roles.

The first major avenue is recruiting. The core of all college sports team building until the recent portal changes, adding current high schoolers to your roster is typically a move for the future. However, Smith is not afraid of running freshmen out there when the need arises, and with how young this team is, there is little doubt that the need will arise.

The first potential freshman contributor is a big man recruited out of Senegal. You heard that right, and no, it is not Mouhamed Gueye again. This new center stands just barely under the seven-foot mark and hailed originally from Nigeria before playing at the NBA Academy Africa. Nope, not Efe Abogidi again, either.

His name is Rueben Chinyelu, and he is the next in a long line of Cougs from Senegal Academy, which has become something of a recruiting pipeline to the Palouse.

Chinyelu is a four-star center, the fifth-highest-ranked WSU recruit ever, according to He is a mobile defender, quick on his feet, but he also maintains the strength necessary to be an elite rebounder against other strong centers.

Chinyelu has been playing basketball since 2018 and played at the NBA Academy for a couple of years before committing to play for the Cougs. He is very likely to be the starting center for the upcoming season.

The other recruits are less likely to start or play a ton of minutes, but depending on need and development, they still have a chance and they are certainly talented enough to contribute.

The next highest-ranked recruit is Spencer Mahoney, a four-star forward. More info on him and his commitment can be found in the Daily Evergreen’s previous article about him.

Isaiah Watts is a three-star 6-foot-3 guard from West Seattle High who played a postgraduate season at South Kent School in Connecticut. He was previously committed to Seton Hall, before reopening his recruitment and deciding to come to Pullman.

He could be a redshirt candidate or a bench piece in his first year, but his potential is high moving into the future.

Parker Gerrits is a no-star 6-foot-2 guard who led Olympia High School to several playoff wins as a scorer and distributor. He is likely to redshirt.

Next are the transfers from non-Division I colleges.

Oscar Cluff is a 6-foot-10 power forward who comes from Sunshine Coast, Australia. He is transferring from Cochise College, a junior college in Arizona where he was a JUCO All-American. He will almost certainly be a bench piece but his size will make him an important one.

Jaylen Wells committed after two years at Sonoma State University, a Division 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.

Although a newcomer to D-I, Wells is a veteran, and his presence will be valuable even if he takes time to adjust defensively to the level of competition.

Finally, the traditional transfer portal.

Joseph Yesufu is a 6-foot combo guard who last played for Kansas off the bench, winning a national championship with them in 2022. His first few seasons were spent at Drake, where he proved he could be the main scorer on a team. After a win in the First Four and a loss in the Round of 64, the Jayhawks came calling and he made his first transfer. 

Now, Yesufu comes to the Palouse, where he will almost certainly be a starter now that the loss of Justin Powell to the NBA Draft is official. The Cougs are going to need guards, and where better to get them than from one of the best teams in the nation?

The final addition to the cover is Isaac Jones. Jones is not new to the area, having just been an All-Big Sky Conference forward/center for the University of Idaho right over the border from Pullman. While he is not as defensively talented as the big men of the last few years at WSU, he might be the best scoring big the Cougs have had in years.
Jones can put the ball in the hoop with the best of them, finishing second in his Conference and 36th in the nation last year in scoring. He has been all but confirmed as the starter at the power-forward spot next season.

These additions come from just about every type of pre-collegiate or collegiate basketball that exists. From a foreign NBA academy to eight miles away from Pullman, the Cougs have grabbed from all over. There is still one scholarship spot remaining, hopefully waiting for the right point guard.

However, based on what we have so far, the roster seems to have been successfully replenished, and fans can look forward to what should be an exciting season getting to know so many new contributors next year.