After throwing his name into the NCAA transfer portal and exploring what potential options might be available to him, Jeff Pollard has decided to remain with the Washington State Cougars for his final season of eligibility.
Pollard was unsure of where he might fit in the wake of Ernie Kent’s firing, so, as a potential grad transfer, he took the no-risk step of looking around — as he put it, a “contingency plan.” But new coach Kyle Smith made it clear that he wanted Pollard to stick around, saying at his introductory news conference, “You are a Coug, so we want you back. I’ll go biblical and the story of the prodigal son, man, in open arms you come back. We’re all hugs, we’re all love. So I’d love to have him and I think we will.”
In the end, Pollard said, “I’m too much of a Coug to be anywhere else.”
Pollard started 23 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 29 games played. Although the stats weren’t impressive, keeping Pollard around was an important step for Smith; the 6-foot-9/240 pound center/forward is, quite literally, the only big man currently on the roster. Isaiah Wade, at 6-7/220, is the only other player who comes close.
Additionally, Pollard has a skill set that Smith values: He’s superb at boxing out, doesn’t turn the ball over, and is a natural team defender. He’s considered a leader, and he’ll be important in the transition to Nerdball.
The roster might still be getting a little bit messier, though: Cougfan is reporting that Wade has entered the portal, and Verbal Commits is reporting the same for Ahmed Ali, with the latter going so far as to say Ali has left the program. Both are junior college transfers who have a redshirt year available to them if they’re forced to sit out a year per NCAA transfer rules.