PULLMAN – Ernie Kent’s Washington State basketball program will now march forward without both of its top scorers from the 2017-18 season.
WSU point guard Malachi Flynn, a 30-game starter who led the Cougars in assists and ranked second in scoring last season, has announced he’s transferring from the Cougars basketball program.
Flynn’s announcement comes less than 30 hours after leading scorer Robert Franks announced he plans to enter the NBA Draft. Franks is entering the draft without an agent, which leaves open the possibility of a return to Pullman, but the 6-foot-8 sharpshooter told The Spokesman-Review Tuesday morning he’s “pretty confident in getting an invite (to the NBA Combine) and leaning toward signing with an agent.”
Flynn, who was the centerpiece of Kent’s backcourt since he arrived on campus in 2016, and Franks, the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player in 2017-18, combined to score more than 33 points per game last season and were the only Cougars who averaged double digits.
A 60-game starter for WSU over the last two seasons, Flynn was the Cougars’ leader with 4.3 assists per game and contributed 3.4 rebounds. He was also a 38 percent 3-point shooter who hit 135 shots from beyond the arc in two years.
Franks was a 17.4 points-per-game scorer for WSU – ranking seventh in the Pac-12 – and hauled down 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers. Behind Flynn and Franks, the Cougars’ next-leading scorers were Viont’e Daniels (9.0 ppg) and Carter Skaggs (8.0 ppg).
Next to Daniels, who started in all 31 games, the Cougars won’t return a player with more than 11 career starts. Skaggs, Milan Acquaah and Kwinton Hinson were all part-time starters for WSU, combining to start in 29 games.
WSU was the only Pac-12 offer for Flynn, a product of Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep who was Washington’s 4A Player of the Year as a senior. He initially committed to Pacific, but withdrew his oral pledge after Kent and the Cougars made a late push.
Flynn becomes the ninth player to transfer from WSU in Kent’s four years at the helm. Joining him are guard Ny Redding (Wyoming); center Valentine Izundu (San Diego State); guard Que Johnson (Western Kentucky); guard Derrien King (Angelo State); guard Renard Suggs (Nebraska-Omaha); forward Aaron Cheatum (Cal State San Bernardino); guard Jackie Davis (Odessa College) and guard Trevor Dunbar (City College of San Francisco).
Presuming Franks hires an agent, Kent will have three scholarships and three starting spots to fill next season. Graduate transfer forward Drick Bernstine, who averaged 6.9 ppg and led the Cougars with 6.9 rpg, also leaves the Cougars. Seattle guard CJ Elleby (Cleveland High) is the only player the Cougars have signed to a letter of intent.