Source: WSU hires Kyle Smith as men’s basketball coach

He inherits a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011-12

By Josh Dubow / AP Sports Writer

Washington State University has hired Kyle Smith as its men’s basketball coach following the disappointing tenure of Ernie Kent.

A person with knowledge of the hiring said Wednesday that Smith was given a six-year deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the hiring had not been formally announced.

The 49-year-old Smith comes to Washington State after a successful three-year run as the head coach at San Francisco. Smith also was a head coach at Columbia for six seasons and has West Coast ties with his time as an assistant at Saint Mary’s for nearly a decade.

Smith went 63-40 in his three seasons at San Francisco, winning at least 20 games in each season and finishing in the top half of the West Coast Conference standings.

Smith’s will be charged with turning around a Cougars program that slumped to the bottom of the Pac-12 during Kent’s time in Pullman. Kent was 58-98 in his five seasons and 22-68 in Pac-12 play. WSU lost its final six games to close this season. The Cougars’ last winning season came in 2011-12 when they finished 19-18 under Ken Bone.

Smith got an unexpected and unsolicited recommendation for the job last week from former Washington State star and current Golden State Warriors standout Klay Thompson.

“Every program he’s been at he’s turned around. … I think he’d be a great get,” Thompson said.

The most successful coaches at Washington State have all had specific systems and found players that fit. Tony Bennett was the latest example, taking the Cougars to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances a decade ago before leaving for Virginia.

Before landing the job at San Francisco, Smith went 102-81 in six seasons at Columbia, capping his run in New York by leading the Lions to the CIT title in 2016.

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