Washington State men’s basketball fans waited anxiously for Mouhamed Gueye to make his decision. Now, the Cougar faithful can rest easy.

After a month of exploring his professional and transfer options, the standout 6-foot-11 post from Senegal has elected to return to Pullman for his sophomore season, according to a report posted Tuesday to Twitter by CBS analyst Jon Rothstein.

Gueye declared for the NBA draft on April 24 and entered the transfer portal shortly afterward. He sought feedback from pro franchises while gauging interest in the NCAA’s version of a free-agency market. Gueye worked out for NBA teams and participated in the G-League combine before withdrawing from the draft pool last week.

After backing out of the draft, Gueye remained in the transfer portal, but the Cougs ultimately won another recruiting battle for the four-star (247) big man who made an immediate impact at WSU as a true freshman in 2021-22. Last offseason, the Prolific Prep (Napa, California) product chose WSU over Kansas and became the Cougs’ third-highest rated recruit of the past two decades.

An “elite defender,” per coach Kyle Smith, with a fast-developing touch on offense, Gueye landed on the All-Pac-12 freshman team last year after starting 33 games and averaging 7.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and just under one block per game for the 22-win Cougars, who advanced to the semifinal round of the NIT.

He emerged as an NBA prospect during his rookie year. So, what might Gueye accomplish as a sophomore? 

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High expectations will surround Gueye and the Cougars’ revamped frontcourt heading into the 2022-23 season. WSU brings back bruising center Dishon Jackson for his junior year, and the Cougs made key additions this offseason in four-star 7-foot freshman Adrame Diongue – who also hails from Senegal – and Mael Hamon-Crespin, a smooth post player from France.

Efe Abogidi, who started for two seasons in the Cougar frontcourt and declared for the NBA draft in April, is reportedly expected to sign a contract with G League Ignite. Still, WSU will be well-stocked in the paint next year.

NOTE:

A rollercoaster ride of an offseason for Washington State’s basketball program began on bumpy tracks, but the Cougars are cruising smooth to the finish.One scholarship spot remains open on WSU’s 2022-23 roster after yet another promising addition. The Cougs received a signature Tuesday from Tennessee transfer Justin Powell, a 6-foot-6 combo guard and one of the top available players in the portal. Powell has three years of eligibility remaining.

The first month of WSU’s recruiting season was marked with uncertainty as half of the team’s roster entered the transfer portal. The Cougs lost Michael Flowers, their point guard and leading scorer, to graduation and Tyrell Roberts and Noah Williams – both regulars in the starting lineup – signed with San Francisco and Washington, respectively.

But the Cougars’ backcourt bounced back with a couple of solid recruits – Central Valley High grad Dylan Darling and 6-5 Saint Mary’s transfer Jabe Mullins. WSU’s latest signee is a plug-and-play talent, potentially at point guard. Powell supplements the Cougs’ length at their guard positions – WSU ran into trouble last season when matched up against taller backcourts – and provides reliable ball-handling skills and three-point shooting.

“He is a proven player at a very high level,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said, quoted in a school news release. “His size in the backcourt (6-6, 197 pounds) and his ability to make plays for himself and others should help us improve offensively. More importantly, playing and contributing for a top-10 program with NCAA experience will add incredible value to our team.”

Powell began his collegiate career at Auburn in 2020-21, starting at point guard in seven of the 10 games he appeared in before sustaining a season-ending head injury. The Kentucky native averaged 11.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 28 minutes per game while shooting 44% from three-point range for the Tigers. He poured in 52 points combined in wins over South Alabama and Memphis in December 2020 and was named the SEC’s freshman of the week.

Powell’s impressive start caught the attention of NBA scouts, and his name began to appear on mock drafts. But the injury derailed his rookie year and Powell entered the transfer portal just after the season wrapped up.