Washington State Cougars coach Kyle Smith has gotten a big boost to his first roster, as guard Marvin Cannon will not transfer after all and is returning to Pullman for his junior season, a source confirmed with CougCenter.
Cannon’s journey back to this point had been a bit of a strange one. The ultra-athletic swingman had a number of breakout scoring games in his sophomore season after transferring from a junior college, and initially seemed to be on board after the coaching change — he was one of two players present at Smith’s introductory news conference and spoke glowingly of the initial direction under Smith.
But then it was reported that Cannon was in the transfer portal, Cannon eventually disappeared from the official roster, and a source confirmed with me that Cannon had a desire to be closer to home and was not going to return.
As you might expect, Cannon did indeed have opportunities to transfer elsewhere, and he did look around, according to the source. Meanwhile, the WSU staff made it clear that they would love to have him back and would welcome him back if he changed his mind. Eventually, Cannon decided that returning to Pullman was the best decision.
Cannon started 21 games last season, averaging 7.9 points and 3.4 rebounds. He had a handful of notable scoring outbursts — 23 points against the Rider Broncs, 19 points against the Santa Clara Broncos, 25 points against the Washington Huskies — but Cannon was best known among fans for his ability to rattle the rim in a program that was light on athleticism for years under Ernie Kent.
However, when I interviewed Smith back in April, he said he envisioned Cannon as “my Kyle Weaver,” referring to his potential to lock down all kinds of players on the defensive end with his length. Although WSU’s defensive principles were a shambles last season, Cannon’s athleticism allowed him to recover and make a block at the rim — even when beaten off the dribble.
It’s tough to say what his ceiling will be as a scorer; he did his most damage slashing to the basket when the opportunity arose, but wasn’t much of a creator — which probably explains the inconsistency as much as anything. He was a serviceable shooter from deep, but he strikes me as the kind of player who might have a tough time with the new, deeper three-point line this season. That said, it’s easy to imagine him getting his fair share of backdoor dunks in Smith’s modified Princeton offense.
The starting lineup next season is bound to be a little bit fluid — and, as we know from Smith’s philosophy, it’s merit-based and determined during practices — but it’s hard to imagine Cannon not ending up as one of the five. Here’s my best guess:
- PG: Isaac Bonton (juco transfer)
- SG: Marvin Cannon
- SF: CJ Elleby
- PF: Deion James (grad transfer)
- C: Jeff Pollard
This also means that the roster is set heading into next season, barring some kind of surprise. Here’s how the roster looks now: