Washington State Cougars Basketball History Update

WSU was awarded the 1917 National Championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation

In this series of updates on the history of SuperWest men’s hoops program, we provide a brief coaching summary and a list of the current coaches, along with postseason results, conference titles, award winners, and all-time coaching records.

Washington State began varsity intercollegiate competition in men’s basketball in 1902.

Fifteen years later, the Cougars were retroactively awarded the 1917 National Championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll after finishing with an overall record of 25-1.

WSU basketball commanded large crowds in the late-1970s when the charismatic George Raveling became the Conference’s first black head coach.

George Raveling/WSU Athletics

His tenure capped a run of nearly seven decades in which the Cougars were a consistent contender in the Pac-10 and its predecessors, dating back to the Pacific Coast Conference.

An unsuccessful period followed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, until Dick Bennett, who had led Wisconsin to the Final Four two years earlier, spearheaded a resurgence.

In the 2004–05 season, the Cougars finished within a few wins of a .500 record, highlighted by an upset win over an eventual Elite Eight Arizona team.

Bennett retired at the end of the 2005–06 season and was replaced by his son Tony.

Tony Bennett tied the all-time WSU record for wins (26) twice in three seasons as head coach before leaving to coach the Virginia Cavaliers in 2009.

Tony Bennett |Danny Moloshok/AP

On March 27, 2019, Kyle Smith was hired as the 19th head coach of Washington State, agreeing to a six-year contract worth $1.4 million annually.

In his first season in Pullman, Smith led the Cougars to a 6-12 conference record (16-16 overall), their best since 2011-12.

In the First Round of the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cougars defeated Colorado, logging their first win in the conference tournament in more than 10 years.

In September 2021, Smith signed a contract extension through the 2026-27 season.

In the 2021-22 season, Smith led the Cougars to their first winning record in conference play (11-9) in 14 years (since 2007-08).

The Cougars followed up their regular-season success with a win in the Pac-12 Tournament before losing to eventual runner-up UCLA.

An NIT berth followed, with the No. 4 seed Cougs making their first postseason appearance in 11 years. Their First-Round win against Santa Clara (63-50) guaranteed their first 20-win season since 2010-11.

Kyle Smith | Amanda Loman/Associated Press

The 2021-22 season ended after an impressive run that landed the Cougs in the Semifinals of the NIT for the second time in program history.

Smith’s 2022-23 team posted a 17-17 record, making their second-straight NIT appearance, and losing in the First Round.

In 2023-24, Smith’s recruiting and coaching savvy came to fruition in a 25-10 season culminating in WSU’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008. The Cougs advanced to the Round of 32 before losing to Iowa State.

Smith was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, finishing his tenure in Pullman with an overall record of 94-71, and Myles Rice collected Freshman of the Year honors.

The day after Washington State was knocked out of the Big Dance, Stanford announced that it had hired Smith to replace the recently fired Jerod Haase as the 19th Cardinal men’s basketball coach.

Former Eastern Washington coach David Riley was announced as Smith’s replacement on April 3, 2024.

Riley compiled a 62-38 record with the Eagles over three seasons, winning two regular-season Big Sky championships, and advancing to the Second Round of the NIT in 2023.

Washington State University (Pullman, WA)

Friel Court at Beasley ColiseumK

Current Coaching Staff
Current head coach: David Riley (2024-present)
Staff: TBA

Postseason Results
NCAA National Championships: 0 (Runner-up in 1941)
Final Four Appearances: 1 (1941)
Elite Eight Appearances: 1 (1941)
Sweet Sixteen Appearances: 1 (2008)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 (1941, 1980, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2008, 2024)
NCAA Tournament Overall Record: 7-7
NIT Championships: 0
NIT Appearances: 7 (1992, 1995, 1996, 2009, 2011, 2022, 2023)
NIT Overall Record: 10-7
CBI Championships: 0 (Runner-up in 2012)
CBI Appearances: 1 (2012)
CBI Overall Record: 4-2
Premo-Porretta National Championships: 1 (1917)
Helms Foundation National Championships: 1 (1917)

Conference Titles (PCC through Pac-12)
Pac-12 Regular Season Championships: 2 (1917, 1941)
Pac-12 Tournament Championships: 0

Annual Award Winners
Naismith Player of the Year: 0
John R. Wooden Award: 0
Oscar Robertson Trophy: 0
AP All-Americans: 1 (Don Collins, 1980)
Pac-12 Player of the Year: 1 (Don Collins, 1980)

Washington State Head Coaching Records
David Riley2024-present0-0000
Kyle Smith2019 - 202494-71010
Ernie Kent2014-201958-98000
Ken Bone2009-201480-86000
Tony Bennett2006-200969-33020
Dick Bennett2003-200636-49000
Paul Graham1999-200331-79000
Kevin Eastman1994-199969-78000
Kelvin Sampson1987-1994103-103010
Len Stevens1983-198748-67000
George Raveling1972-1983167-136020
Bob Greenwood1971-197211-15000
Marv Harshman1958-1971155-181000
Jack Friel1928-1951495-377110
Karl Schlademan1926-192818-27000
J. Fred Bohler1908-1926226-1771
John Bender1907-190812-3
Everett Sweeley1905-190710-9
Jimmy Ashmore1903-19055-3
John Evans1901-19032-4

—More from Staff—