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Andrej Jakimovski set to be a ‘difference-maker’ for WSU basketball next season

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As it turns out, the international freshman is a big deal back home in North Macedonia.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Today marks the first day that college basketball teams nationwide can hit the practice floor and, for the first time in a long time, this should be exciting for Coug fans.

Kyle Smith made major waves in his first season as Washington State head coach. The team finished 16-16 overall, marking the first time they finished the year without a losing record since 2011.

The Cougs even won a game in the conference tournament for the first time in a decade, topping Colorado 82-68 in the final NCAA game played before the COVID-19 shutdown. (A fact that inarguable makes them the 2019-20 national champions. Prove me wrong.)

Smith did great work on the court, but he made even more waves in the offseason. Smith and his assistants jumped into the recruitment process head first. The staff signed 6 players, including 3 players ranked in the top 200 nationally by 247 Sports. Overall that site ranks the WSU class 33rd in the NCAA and 4th in the Pac-12.

The class of 2020 is led by 4-star international recruit Andrej Jakimovski from North Macedonia. He’s ranked as the third best recruit the Cougs have ever signed, and for good reason. In their podcast, Jeff Nusser and Craig Powers said that he has the ability to start — and produce — on day one.

As it turns out, Andy Wittry of NCAA.com agrees. Yesterday, he wrote about six college basketball freshmen that could be “difference-makers” in the upcoming 2020-21 season, and Jakimovski made the cut.

“It has been 12 years since Washington State enrolled a freshman arguably more talented than Jakimovski,” Wittry writes. “That was back in 2008, when a 39-year-old coach named Tony Bennett — ever heard of him? — enrolled a shooting guard named Klay Thompson.”

“Jakimovski is a 6-7 small forward who chose Washington State over the likes of Boston College, Davidson, Georgia Tech and Minnesota, among others. The Cougars went 16-16 under first-year head coach Kyle Smith, who will have one of the best freshmen in program history at his disposal in Year Two.”

Jakimovski is going to be a name to watch on the court next season... And as it turns out, he’s already paying dividends when it comes to attracting new Cougar fans.

Washington native, and former Eastern Washington player, Jake Wiley is currently playing professionally in Jakimovski’s home country of North Macedonia. Needless to say... Jakimovski a big deal in that neck of the woods.

“Macedonia love Washington State because (Jakimovski) is playing there,” Wiley told the Spokesman Review. “Since I’m from the state of Washington, they come up to me and ask if I knew Klay Thompson.”

It’s official. North Macedonia LOVES the Cougs.

We don’t yet know when the team will tip off for the first time, but we do know it will be sometime around November 25th. That’s the date the NCAA set for the start of competition in Division I.

Links

6 college basketball freshmen who could be BIG difference-makers this season
The Cougars went 16-16 under first-year head coach Kyle Smith, who will have one of the best freshmen in program history at his disposal in Year Two.

Three big questions facing WSU football in fall camp | krem.com
WSU kicks off their season in just under a month at Oregon State.