Ernie Kent hasn’t had much luck acquiring top shelf talent in his four years in Pullman, but maybe his luck is changing: Robert Franks has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft and will return to the Washington State Cougars for his senior season.
It’s not a recruiting win, per se, since one would hope Kent wasn’t burning up the phones trying to convince Franks to come back. But for a team that was facing the prospect of replacing three starters — including its top two scorers in Franks and Malachi Flynn (who transferred) — from a 12-19 squad, this has the practical effect of Kent landing a one-and-done-type talent since Franks will roundly be considered a preseason all-conference pick heading into his final season.
For his part, Kent doesn’t sound nearly as excited as I would expect!
“We are glad that Robert got the opportunity to test the NBA waters,” Kent said via news release. “We are excited to have him back for his senior season and continue to contribute to this program.”
Franks was the team’s leading scorer last season, averaging 17.4 points while also contributing 6.6 rebounds per game. And it wasn’t just a function of volume; he was fifth in the Pac-12 in offensive efficiency among high usage players, only behind Deandre Ayton, David Collette, Noah Dickerson and Reid Travis. That’s some excellent company, and a testament to how big of a leap Franks made between his sophomore and junior seasons.
With that, the roster should finally be set. Your starters probably look like this (2017-18 averages):
- PG: Jervae Robinson (juco transfer)
- SG: Vionte’ Daniels (32.7 minutes, 9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2 assists)
- Wing: Carter Skaggs (20.5 minutes, 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds)
- PF: Robert Franks (33 minutes, 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds)
- Post: Davante Cooper (6.3 minutes, 1.4 points, 1.2 rebounds) or Isaiah Wade (juco transfer)
Looking at that, it should be pretty obvious that even with Franks, the Cougs probably still won’t be very good — it’s hard to see where a legit second scoring option will come from. But today is a day for good news, because the program that has had very little of it in years, so we’ll save that analysis for another day.
Besides: Franks is perhaps the Cougs’ most dynamic scorer since Klay Thompson, so watching him take roughly every other shot should at least be entertaining!
Here’s how the roster stands, with the presumption that this is how it will look at the beginning of next season: