When Ken Bone reassigned Jeff Hironaka as the director of player development, it opened a spot on the coaching staff. Bone said he wanted to add someone with recruiting ties to the Midwest and apparently he didn't have to look far as today he added former Idaho assistant coach Ray Lopes to the WSU coaching staff.
Lopes spent the last four seasons with Idaho, first as an assistant then later as the associate head coach. He's bounced around college basketball and the NBA D-League quite a bit including a stop at WSU in 1993-94 as an assistant coach.
At WSU he coached under Kelvin Sampson then followed Sampson to Oklahoma for an eight year stint with the Sooners. Lopes was the head coach at Fresno State for three seasons. He also spent two years as the associate head coach of the Idaho Stampede, a NBA D-League team.
While Lopes may have developed some Midwest ties while coaching at Oklahoma, it hasn't shown in the makeup of the Vandals roster. Of the 13 players on last seasons Idaho roster, nine were from California, Washington, Idaho or Oregon. None are from Midwest states.
Lopes does come with some baggage, in the form of NCAA recruiting violations. He was the top assistant under Kelvin Sampson when Sampson received a one-year ban on calling recruits. Then when Lopes was the head coach at Fresno State, he was also punished for making impermissible calls. Lopes made 457 impermissible calls over a two-plus-year period and was given a three-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA.
At this point, it's tough to say whether or not Ken Bone made the right move demoting Hironaka and adding Lopes, but my initial reaction is this was one big swing and a miss. Maybe Lopes will come in and recruit the Midwest like crazy, I have no idea, but he wasn't successful doing so at Idaho and comes with a history of NCAA infractions.
Only time will tell if these moves pay off, but considering the damage it did to Hironaka's career path and Lopes history with the NCAA, this move feels underwhelming at best.