WSU Basketball: Coach Kent announces three roster changes


Jan 15, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars guard Royce Woolridge (22) brings the ball down court against Stanford Cardinal guard Chasson Randle (5) at Maples Pavilion. Stanford won 80-48. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

As previously speculated here at ACU ten days ago, along with the change of Washington State Cougar men’s basketball coaching staff expect some roster modifications to take place.

WSU officially announced today that three student-athletes from the roster new head coach Ernie Kent inherited are leaving the program.

Royce Woolridge, James Hunter and Jermaine Morgan will not be playing for the Cougs next season.

In the case of Woolridge, he will graduate from WSU this spring. The young man who transferred from Kansas in the hope of getting more playing time in Pullman than he expected in Lawrence will try to transfer to a program closer to home in Arizona.

"“I believe with all my heart that (Coach Kent) will take this program to the next level, but my responsibilities are with my family and my grandmother. I commend Coach Kent for being so understanding. I’ve enjoyed my three years here and am proud that I will be able to call myself a Washington State graduate. I am looking to continue my education by attending graduate school and playing my final season at a school in Arizona to be closer to my grandmother,” stated Woolridge in the WSU release."

No question Royce Woolridge will be missed next season. His passionate play and exemplary demeanor on and off the court have been a  credit to the WSU basketball program for the past two seasons. Out of necessity, Woolridge stepped into the role of playing point guard when Reggie Moore was dismissed from the squad two years ago and then last season after expected starter Danny Lawhorn abruptly left Pullman. Royce performed credibly, but didn’t show much progress or improvement over the course of the past season. He was hampered by injury which clearly effected his play.

James Hunter was an enigma after transferring from Gillette College in Wyoming. He saw very limited playing time the past two seasons. It wasn’t likely that would change under the leadership of Ernie Kent. Looking to step up the tempo, Hunter might have struggled trying to adapt to Kent’s fast-paced style.

"“I want to thank Coach Kent and the staff for the great opportunity here at WSU,” Hunter said. “I know I’m leaving my teammates in great hands and wish them all the success in the world. I am set to receive a great degree from Washington State, which allows me to pursue a master’s degree and play my final year of basketball elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed my time at WSU and made lifelong friends, but I know this decision is going to be best for my future.”"

Jermaine Morgan signed a National Letter of Intent to attend WSU during the early signing period. The highly touted forward from  Moberly Area CC in Missiouri was expected to fill some of the void created by the departure of double-double machine D.J. Shelton who graduates this spring.

Feb 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ernie Kent (right) interviews Southern California Trojans guard Jio Fontan (1) after the game against the Arizona Wildcats at the Galen Center.USC defeated Arizona 89-78. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

"“Jermaine Morgan feels he needs to stay closer to home as a member of his family deals with medical issues,” Coach Kent said. “I granted him the opportunity to do that by releasing him from his scholarship. We wish him well.”"

It hasn’t taken long for Kent and his staff to be tested on just how good their recruiting network is. Three roster openings along with two seniors graduating for last year’s team certainly will give men’s hoops a new look this fall. It will be a challenge to fill in the roster, but not an impossible task.

WSU athletic director,  Bill Moos made a head coach change after seeing fan interest vanish over the past few years. Now there will not only be a completely new look to the Cougar staff the roster will not resemble what it was.

If Moos wanted to rebuild men’s hoops into a Pac-12 Conference competitor, he certainly has two key components in place. Ernie Kent is a proven winner in the Pac-12 and returning guard DaVonté Lacy promises to be one of the top players in the conference next year. Despite being plagued by injury during the past campaign, Lacy was frequently mentioned as one of the elite guys in the Pac-12.