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WSU Men's Basketball

Point guard Ahmed Ali leaves Washington State men’s basketball team

WSU’s Ahmed Ali goes for a shot against Santa Clara during the second period of the game at the Spokane Arena on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. They lost to Santa Clara 79-71. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Ahmed Ali, a point guard on the Washington State men’s basketball team who entered the transfer portal earlier this year before electing to stick it out with the Cougars, has now left the program, a school official confirmed to The Spokesman-Review.

The Toronto native would’ve been a senior for first-year coach Kyle Smith’s program this season. Ali, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound guard, transferred to WSU from Eastern Florida State College last season and started in 24 of 32 games.

Ali averaged just 7.3 points per game and 1.8 rebounds but held one of the top assist-to-turnover ratios in the Pac-12, at 2.4. That number would’ve ranked third in the Pac-12 had Ali averaged at least three assists per game. He was just shy, at 2.9 assists per game.

Ali and a number of teammates from last year’s squad entered the transfer portal after the program made a coaching change, firing Kent fewer than 24 hours after an opening-round loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament. Smith, who most recently coached at the University of San Francisco, was hired as Kent’s replacement.

Though he was an upperclassman with one year of Pac-12 experience and a handful of starts under his belt, Ali wasn’t projected to be in Smith’s starting five this season. The coach told The Spokesman-Review in the spring it would be difficult for anyone to beat out former Montana State guard Isaac Bonton, whom Smith described as an “explosive scorer” and “playmaker.”

Along with Bonton, Ali would’ve likely competed with returning senior Jervae Robinson and incoming freshman Noah Williams for minutes at the point guard position.