Stretching the court

Shpreyregin spent two years at Skagit Valley College before transferring to WSU as walk-on



WSU senior guard Steven Shpreyregin talks about being on the team and his goals for the remainder of the season.

RYAN MOSHER, Evergreen reporter

WSU senior guard Steven Shpreyregin walked on to the men’s basketball team, but he is an essential part of the close-knit group that describe themselves as a family.

Whether it’s hanging out with his teammates after a tiring practice or stretching the court with his shooting ability on game day, Shpreyregin is an important thread of the team’s fabric, WSU assistant coach Ed Haskins said.

“He stretches the floor because he’s a great shooter, he adds a very solid knowledge of what [head coach Ernie Kent] is trying to accomplish, and he adds it day in and day out in practice,” Haskins said. “Everybody loves him, he’s that guy. He might be the coolest dude on the squad.”

Junior forward Robert Franks said that “Stevie” brings a lot to the team with his energy and attitude, and his great shooting.

“Stevie just adds a player that’s all in to the program, does his best every day, is a great teammate and he brings great energy,” Franks said. “He’s just a great teammate overall, he always has a great spirit about him day in and day out,”

Shpreyregin is a Seattle native. His family is Belarusian, but they have lived in the U.S. for roughly three decades.

He’s not the only athlete in the family either. His brother also played basketball and his father was a professional athlete – a six-time table tennis champion.

His athletic family and love for the game of basketball inspired Steven to take up the sport. After high school he spent two years playing at Skagit Valley College before transferring to WSU for his junior year and walking on to the team. Shpreyregin said he found a unique family atmosphere at WSU.

“From the coaching staff to the players, to the trainers and managers, to our advisor, everyone is just super close,” Shpreyregin said. “It makes it a lot more fun to get stuff done and be successful. I feel like we’re a pretty tight-knit group.”

Shpreyregin credits Kent for a large part of the family atmosphere and team’s performance. He added Kent inspires the team to play basketball just like the game Shpreyregin witnessed as a kid, when he watched Kent’s University of Oregon team defeat University of Washington.

“I got a lot of love for Coach Kent, first of all his track record, everything he’s accomplished,” Shpreyregin said. “Being a player for him is an honor. When I was younger I grew up going to all the UW games. I specifically remember his Oregon team coming to UW and just killing UW.”

One apparent detail has shone through various basketball players’ interviews this season — the team enjoys playing games together to unwind after practice. Not Horse or Bump, but games like FIFA, NBA 2K18 and Fortnite.

“Recently a couple of us started playing Fortnite,” Shpreyregin said. “Me and Drick [Bernstine] always play. We do go bowling sometimes … we’ll just hangout, go to a friend’s house, just chill stuff after practice because everyone is usually pretty tired.”

Shpreyregin said the team has shared goals for the season, including reaching the NCAA tournament. But he also hopes to accomplish his individual goals.

“Go to the NCAA tournament and hopefully win the Pac-12 championships, those are our two biggest goals.” Shpreyregin said. “I want to improve my shooting percentage.”