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Cougar basketball is a season-by-season adventure now. Get used to it.

The transfer portal and NIL have changed everything for schools like Washington State.

PULLMAN, WA - JANUARY 30: Washington State Men’s Basketball versus the Colorado Buffaloes at Beasley Coliseum - Head Coach Kyle Smith Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning Coug fans. It was good news and bad news yesterday for your Washington State men’s basketball team. And if you didn’t like it, tough luck, because it’s probably going to turn into the norm.

To recap: First, news broke yesterday that big man and highly rated recruit Adrame Diongue was entering the transfer portal. Diongue is entering his sophomore season and was poised for bigger minutes next season, particularly with Mouhamed Gueye pursing a professional career and Dishon Jackson transferring to Charlotte.

If you’re keeping score, that’s Diongue, Gueye, Jackson, DJ Rodman, TJ Bamba and Carlos Rosario all leaving Pullman will eligibility left. Ouch.

The good news is WSU soon announced two signings—one an in-state high school hooper and another a transfer from eight miles down the road.

Isaiah Watts—the grandson of Slick Watts—was committed to Seton Hall but obviously plans have changed. Make sure you read Bryce’s writeup on Watts and his potential.

The Cougs also signed big man Isaac Jones, who comes from the University of Idaho. Jones figures to join the lineup right away. Bryce has done the legwork of analyzing the signings, so make sure you read his post from yesterday.

Roster churn like this used to be problematic and a black mark on a head coach. I’m obviously not around the team and know absolutely nothing about these conversations, so I’m not at all about to wonder if Kyle Smith has lost his team. Three years ago, I would have.

But the transfer portal changed the game, and NIL took the game to another level. Smith was on the Puck and Jim Show podcast and was quite candid about everything (this interview happened after Rodman announced his transfer, but before he announced his commitment to USC, and obviously before yesterday’s news).

The conversation is enlightening. While I encourage you to listen, the gist is Smith pretty much laments not NIL and players making money, but the fact that WSU simply cannot compete with schools like USC, UW and other larger schools with larger, wealthier donor bases. This was entirely predictable, but do you have confidence that the NCAA can step in to cool things off? Didn’t think so.

This will continue to be an issue for Washington State until it can find more donors, but like the podcast hosts mentioned: Alums are asked to donate to all sorts of programs—academics and athletics. This roster churn will be a year-by-year thing, and—as has been written here before by others—the days of building and developing a program are gone. You build for the upcoming season, and then you’ll have to build again starting at the conclusion of the season.

So bemoan it all you want, but until a whale shows up and starts handing out serious offers to athletes, this is the way it’ll be.