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Gueye named first team All-Pac-12, Bamba earns honorable mention nod

On the eve of their 2023 Pac-12 Tournament debut, two WSU Cougars earned postseason All-Pac-12 honors

Ashley Davis

Few teams in the Pac-12 can say that they are as hot as the Washington State men’s basketball team. The Cougs roll into the Pac-12 Tournament later this afternoon as a five-seed, riding a six-game win streak that includes three-in-a-row on the road. Two of the biggest reasons for that late run has been the play of both Mouhamed Gueye and TJ Bamba. On Tuesday, both players were honored by the conference in the Pac-12 postseason honors. Gueye was named to the All-Pac-12 first team, while Bamba (somewhat surprisingly) was relegated to All-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition.

Gueye’s honor was more or less a no brainer. The sophomore was a force inside for WSU all season. He racked up 14.5 points (ninth in Pac-12) and 8.7 rebounds (second in the Pac-12) per game this season. He also posted 15 double-doubles, the most in the conference. The Senegal native also picked up an honorable mention nod on the all-defensive team.

Bamba, meanwhile, was WSU’s leading scorer this season, posting 15.7 points per game, good for eighth place in the Pac-12. The junior was productive all season, but really found his stride late in the season. Over the final three games of the regular season slate, Bamba averaged 25.7 points per game (including a 36-point night in WSU’s season finale win at Washington) and shot more than 60% from the field.

A lot of Cougar fans, including some CougCenter writers, felt Bamba deserved more recognition and possibly even the most improved player award that ended up going to Oumar Ballo of Arizona. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones that felt that way.

“He could have made a case to be second team, I’d imagine,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith told the media on Tuesday. “It’s something for him to look forward to improving upon.”

Smith added that he thought Bamba, who wasn’t even an honorable mention for the all-defensive team, should have picked up recognition there as well.

“I’d say Bamba is probably deserving there, too,” Smith said. “TJ probably got the short end of it, because he has such a big role, is so important for us defensively.”

In addition to the All-Pac-12 first and second team honors, the conference also announced their player of the year awards, with UCLA nearly completing the sweep of those honors. USC’s Reese Dixon-Waters was named sixth player of the year and, as mentioned, Arizona’s Ballo was named most improved, but the other four awards all went to Bruins including player of the year (Jaime Jaquez), defensive player of the year (Jaylen Clark, Jr.), freshman of the year (Adem Bona) and coach of the year (Mick Cronin).

With the awards out of the way, WSU can now turn their focus to the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cougs will take the court in Las Vegas this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. as the five seed, facing off against the 12th seeded Cal Bears. TV coverage set for the Pac-12 Network with a spot in Thursday’s quarterfinal round against fourth seeded Oregon on the line.

Mouhamed Gueye, TJ Bamba earn recognition from conference, lead surging Washington State team into Pac-12 tournament | The Spokesman-Review
The driving force behind Washington State's late-season push, according to coach Kyle Smith – leadership provided by the Cougars' two best players, post Mouhamed Gueye and guard TJ Bamba.

Gueye and Bamba Earn Pac-12 All-Conference Honors - Washington State University Athletics
Sophomore Mouhamed Gueye and junior TJ Bamba both earned 2022-23 Pac-12 All-Conference honors, the Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday. Gueye was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team and All-Defensive Team Honorable Mention, while Bamba garnered All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention.

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