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Washington State hires Eastern Washington's David Riley as men's hoops coach

Apr. 3—Washington State didn't have to go far to find its new men's basketball coach.

The Cougars hired Eastern Washington coach David Riley as their new men's hoops boss, the school announced Tuesday evening.

Just 68 miles north of Pullman, Riley coached the Eagles of Cheney as an assistant or head coach for the last 13 years.

Riley took over as head coach in 2021, leading EWU to Big Sky Conference regular-season titles in 2023 and 2024. He was named Big Sky coach of the year both championship seasons.

"WSU is a dream job and embodies everything that college athletics is about," Riley said in a news release. "I'm excited to build on the foundation that has been laid here. We look forward to recruiting and retaining student athletes who want to be here and understand how special it is on the Palouse. I can't wait to get to work for the best fan base in the state."

Riley, 35, owns a 62 — 38 record that includes a win over the Cougars in the 2023 National Invitation Tournament. He started out as a graduate assistant at EWU in 2011.

The Eagles this season overcame a 1-6 start to finish 21-11 overall and 15-3 in Big Sky play. While the Eagles didn't play in a national tournament this season, Riley has coached EWU in multiple national tourneys as a head coach or assistant coach, with trips to the NCAA tournament as an assistant in the 2014-15 and 2020-21 seasons.

"We are thrilled to have David Riley leading our men's basketball program as we look to build on this season's success," WSU interim athletic director Anne McCoy said in a news release. "Throughout the process, Dave's coaching acumen was evident as was his ability to create a winning culture."

A Seattle native, Riley played college basketball at Division III Whitworth in Spokane, where he was a prolific 3-point shooter. Riley once drained 10 3-pointers in a 115-69 victory over Willamette on Feb. 11, 2011.

Riley will replace former coach Kyle Smith, who departed for Stanford after leading WSU to its first NCAA tournament in 16 years this spring. Smith coached the Cougars for five seasons from 2019-24 — a stretch that also included two NIT appearances, with a run to the semifinals in 2022. Smith's best year was this last season when the Cougs went 25-10 and made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2008.

The Cougars are coming off one of their best seasons in program history, but Riley will face a major rebuild once the hire is made official.

So far, 10 Cougars have entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal, including four full-time or part-time starters in guard Myles Rice, forward Andrej Jakimovski and centers Rueben Chinyelu and Oscar Cluff. Rice was the Pac-12 Conference freshman of the year.

WSU is also without a permanent home. The Cougs will play their next two seasons in the West Coast Conference.

In just three seasons, (Riley) has emphasized player development through a fast-paced, high-powered offense that allows his student-athletes to play free and confidently," McCoy said. "We're excited to begin the David Riley-era at Washington State and welcome (him) and Emily to the Cougar family."

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.