Cougar basketball debuts against Seattle U

New starters fill open spots on the WSU Basketball roster

Then-sophomore+forward+Marvin+Cannon+dunks+the+ball+against+UW+on+Feb.+17+at+Beasley+Coliseum.
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Cougar basketball debuts against Seattle U

Then-sophomore forward Marvin Cannon dunks the ball against UW on Feb. 17 at Beasley Coliseum.

Then-sophomore forward Marvin Cannon dunks the ball against UW on Feb. 17 at Beasley Coliseum.

JACK LEWIS-CLARKE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Then-sophomore forward Marvin Cannon dunks the ball against UW on Feb. 17 at Beasley Coliseum.

JACK LEWIS-CLARKE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

JACK LEWIS-CLARKE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Then-sophomore forward Marvin Cannon dunks the ball against UW on Feb. 17 at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

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The WSU men’s basketball team will host their season opener against the Seattle University Redhawks at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars come off an 11-21, 4-14 record this past season, which ranked second-to-last in the Pac-12. WSU made some considerable changes to the roster and staff in the off-season in an attempt to revitalize the program this season.

WSU only has five returning players this year, including sophomore forward CJ Elleby and senior forward Jeff Pollard who both represented the team during the Pac-12 media day. Twelve new names make up the roster this year, ranging from true freshmen to Division I transfers.

Head coach Kyle Smith said the team will have some recognizable faces as well as some new ones in the starting lineup against Seattle University.

“CJ and Jeff, I think you can count on them and probably Isaac Bonton for sure,” Smith said.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton is a transfer who played for Montana State his freshman year. He then attended Casper College, a junior college in Wyoming, as a sophomore where he led the team in points per game.

Now Bonton is back in Division I basketball and ready to compete at a high level once more.

“I’m just excited to get going, back in Division I,” Bonton said. “And the team is looking good.”

WSU also added redshirt senior guard Jaylen Shead to the roster. Shead is a former starter from Texas State University where he was second in the Sun Belt Conference in assists per game.

Smith said the addition of Shead will be a great addition to WSU’s defending and passing this season.

“Having a true point guard out there to direct, we’re excited,” Smith said. “That was definitely a nice add for us this summer.”

WSU lost its game against Seattle University last season 78-69. Smith said this matchup excites the new Cougar squad to establish themselves early in the season.

“We got a really tough foe in Seattle U,” Smith said. “I’m sure there will be some nerves and jitters but we’re looking forward to it.”

Sophomore forward Aljaž Kunc said the team is excited to bring back WSU basketball this Thursday and wants fans to come and check out the new team.

“Come see our new team. Come see our new court,” Kunc said. “Hopefully, we show you all that it’s worth it to come to Beasley.”

WSU will tip off against Seattle University at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Beasley Coliseum. The game can be viewed on the Pac-12 network.