Ernie Kent hired as WSU basketball coach

In the end, athletics director Bill Moos decides to go with a coach he knows well.

Former Oregon coach Ernie Kent has been hired as the next coach at Washington State, according to reports by CougFan and CollegeAD. He replaces Ken Bone, who was fired after five seasons on March 18.

Terms of the contract have not yet been revealed.

Kent has long been rumored as a potential candidate to coach at WSU because of his ties to athletics director Bill Moos. In fact, this is the second time Moos has hired Kent, whom he plucked out of St. Mary's in 1997. Kent coached at Oregon for 13 seasons before being fired by then-Oregon athletics director Mike Bellotti in 2010 after finishing 10th and 9th in the Pac-10 in consecutive years.

Moos did little to discourage the possibility Kent as a potential candidate in the wake of Bone's dismissal, as he was effusive in his praise of his former coach during the post-firing news conference.

"Ernie has proven during our time together at Oregon that he can do all the things I'm talking about," Moos said. "Maybe (it's) a little bit different because Oregon was Ernie's alma mater and he was a hero there as part of the ‘Kamikaze Kids,' but he had to recruit to what I can safely say was a rat hole. ... He managed to win an outright Pac-10 championship and two tournament championships, go to two Elite Eights and five trips to the NCAA tournament. So I use Ernie as an example that it can happen, just like you can use Mike Price as an example that you can go to Rose Bowls here.

"So in that regard somebody like Ernie that would have a passion for Washington State like he did for the University of Oregon would be someone I'd be interested in."

Although it ended badly for Kent at his alma mater, it can be argued that Kent -- who has spent the past few years broadcasting -- is as successful a basketball coach as WSU has ever hired, and that includes Dick Bennett. Kent has six NCAA tournament appearances on his resume (one at St. Mary's, five at Oregon), same as Bennett, and two of Kent's teams made it to the Elite Eight.

However, Kent does not bring the same reputation as a program builder that Bennett did. Kent obviously was successful at St. Mary's and Oregon -- his career record is 325-254, including a conference championship -- but each school had made the NCAA tournament two years prior to his arrival. There is little doubt that WSU is the most challenging Division I head coaching job Kent has accepted, having not been to the NCAA tournament since 2008.

Ken also presumably will be trying to do resurrect WSU with a fast-paced style that hasn't been successful in Pullman since George Raveling was leading the program in the early 1980s. That said, Kent's calling card is his ability to recruit, and for a program that is undeniably talent poor, it makes sense that Moos would go in that direction -- especially when put in the context of Moos' comments about recruiting at that news conference.

"I really think in the sport of men's basketball it's so much about recruiting and having good, good players," Moos said. "Here we're going into the field of 68 at the Big Dance and there are a heck of a lot more, in my opinion, a heck of a lot more teams that are in that tournament because of good players than because of good coaching and you get the combination of having both and you're going to find yourself in the Sweet 16."

We're about to find out just what kind of a recruiter Ernie Kent truly is.

EDIT: Here's the official release from the school. Kent will be introduced at a 2:00 p.m. press conference at Beasley on Wednesday. He gets a five year rollover deal; terms have not been disclosed.

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