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Marvin Cannon, Ahmed Ali return to Washington State basketball, rounding out Kyle Smith’s roster

Washington State University men's basketball coach Kyle Smith greets one of his players, sophomore Marvin Cannon (5), during a press conference in Washington State University's Rankich Club Room on Monday, April 1, 2019 in Pullman, Wash. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State University men's basketball coach Kyle Smith greets one of his players, sophomore Marvin Cannon (5), during a press conference in Washington State University's Rankich Club Room on Monday, April 1, 2019 in Pullman, Wash. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

After browsing the transfer market, Washington State basketball players Marvin Cannon and Ahmed Ali have chosen to return the Cougars next season, finalizing coach Kyle Smith’s first roster in Pullman.

Ali and Cannon, junior college transfers who were recruited by former coach Ernie Kent, both entered the transfer portal and seemed intent on finding a new place to play when Kent was fired following WSU’s disappointing 11-21 season.

But Ali indicated he’d be coming back next season two weeks ago, tweeting “WSU BABY#GoCougs” and a report from Cougfan.com confirmed the senior point guard had chosen to return.

A source told Cougcenter.com Tuesday that Cannon, a junior, had also decided to stick it out in Pullman after contemplating a transfer. Cannon and senior guard Jervae Robinson were the two returning players that attended Smith’s introductory press conference and Cannon spoke with enthusiasm about laying the foundation for the new era of Cougar basketball.

“I wanted to do my research before I met him,” Cannon said in early April, “… Read nothing but good things about him and just how he built programs and how great of a guy he is.”

Cannon’s return gives the Cougars an athletic swingman who’s capable of penetrating to the hoop and has a knack for getting to the free throw line. Last season he averaged just 7.9 points per game but held the second-best FT percentage in the Pac-12, at 84.4%. A high-flier, Cannon started in 21 of 32 games and led the team in blocks with 23 on the season.

Ali, a Toronto native, started in 24 of 32 games for the Cougars, playing primarily at the point guard position. He averaged 7.3 points per game and finished second with 2.9 assists and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4, which would’ve ranked third in the Pac-12 if he’d averaged 3.0 assists.

Ali and Cannon return to a WSU roster that will also include Robinson, CJ Elleby, Jaz Kunc, Jeff Pollard, Deion James, Isaac Bonton, D.J. Rodman, Noah Williams, Daron Henson, Ryan Rapp and Volodymyr Markovetskyy.

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