WSU expected to hire EWU coach David Riley as next head coach, per reports

Apr. 2—PULLMAN — Washington State's next head basketball coach won't have to travel far to his new home.

WSU is hiring Eastern Washington coach David Riley, according to multiple reports including Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, ending an eight-day coaching search in the wake of former coach Kyle Smith's departure for Stanford last week.

Riley, 35, was born in Seattle and played at Division III Whitworth in Spokane. In three seasons at EWU, Riley led the Eagles to an overall record of 62-38 (42-14 Big Sky) with two conference regular-season titles and two postseason appearances, his first season in The Basketball Classic and his second in the NIT.

The Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2023 and 2024, Riley's EWU teams own two wins over WSU: In the first round of last season's NIT and in the 2021-22 regular season, both in Pullman. He has shown he can beat and hang with power-conference opponents, beating California in 2022 and taking a late lead on Washington a few months ago in Seattle.

The fourth-youngest Division I head coach last season, Riley doesn't have a ton of head coaching experience. He has spent his entire coaching career at EWU, where he worked as director of basketball operations from 2011-2014 before becoming an assistant coach from 2014-2021.

Riley's Eagles teams have disappointed in March, however. As the Big Sky Tournament's top seed each of the last two years, they dropped their first game in both of those tournaments.

Riley is likely WSU's second choice. On Monday, WSU offered the job to Montana State head coach Matt Logie, according to reports, but Logie turned down the offer to stay at MSU, which responded with an extension with a pay bump.

The Cougars also went away from associate head coach Jim Shaw, who interviewed for the position but was informed he was out of the running last week, multiple sources confirmed to The Spokesman-Review. Over the weekend, in a statement to the S-R, Shaw said he was deciding between following Smith to Stanford or accepting another offer.

Riley may have to work to reconstruct the Washington State roster. In the days after Smith's departure, 10 Cougs have entered the transfer portal, including star guard Myles Rice, senior wing Andrej Jakimovski, junior center Oscar Cluff and true freshman center Rueben Chinyelu, all of whom started last season. Six other reserves have also hit the portal.

All 10 retain the option to return to WSU.

As of Tuesday, WSU does roster two key pieces in junior wing Jaylen Wells and true freshman guard Isaiah Watts, both of whom played important roles last season, Watts coming on strong toward the end of the season, which ended in the Cougs' first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years.

Last season, EWU guard LeJuan Watts won Big Sky Freshman of the Year honors, and junior wing Cedric Coward landed on the all-conference first team. Junior forward Ethan Price and junior wing Casey Jones earned second-team honors, and Jones also landed on the all-defensive team.

Last season, the Eagles played one of the country's toughest non-conference schedules, coming in 18th nationally according to KenPom. Part of that is the reason why the Eagles ranked low nationally in some metrics, like 262nd in defensive efficiency and No. 336 in 3-point defense, allowing a mark of 36.9%.

But EWU also scored exceptionally well, coming in fourth nationally with an effective field goal percentage of 57.2%. They also made 58.7% of their 2-pointers, sixth nationally, and Coward — who started his career at Division III Willamette — ranked 14th nationally with a true-shooting figure of 66.2%.

Riley's father, Ed, is an anesthesiologist at Stanford, while his uncle Mike Riley is the former head football coach at Oregon State and Nebraska.