Four months ago, Kim Aiken Jr. was wearing an Eastern Washington uniform, helping to push the Eagles of the Big Sky Conference to a near-upset of Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.
Not long after the 2020-21 season ended, Aiken parted ways with the Eagles, committing to Arizona when coach Shantay Legans left Eastern to become the coach at Portland.
Aiken’s plans at Arizona fell through when Sean Miller was fired, and the Big Sky’s Defensive Player of the Year quickly found a spot with Washington State. Now, before playing a game in a crimson uniform, it appears Aiken’s time with the Cougars may be coming to an end.
The former EWU forward confirmed to The Spokesman-Review Thursday he’ll be reopening his recruitment . According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, who first reported the story, Aiken never enrolled at WSU, but the Cougars did sign him to a letter of intent and he’s been working out with the team in recent months.
In a recent interview with The Spokesman-Review, WSU basketball coach Kyle Smith described Aiken as a
“two-way player” who’d bring “leadership, maturity (and) toughness” to the Cougars.
Added Smith: “Really like him, excited about him. It’ll be hard to get him off the floor. I just think from what I’ve seen and his attitude, I just think he’s got leadership qualities to him.”
In an interview after he committed to the Cougars, Aiken indicated Smith’s emphasis on playing elite defense was one of the main things that drew him to Pullman.
“So, I really think defensively we’re going to be pretty solid and I’m really hoping we are,” Aiken said, “because I’m trying to be defensive player of the year in the Pac-12.”
Aiken , a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward, was not only the Big Sky’s top defender, he also led the conference in rebounding at 8.4 rebounds per game. He averaged 11.4 points per game .
If Aiken leaves, it further diminishes the depth at a small forward position that appeared would to be one of WSU’s strongest and deepest spots in 2021-22. Former four-star recruit Andrej Jakimovski transferred to Loyola Maryland after playing in 25 games as a freshman for the Cougars. WSU still returns DJ Rodman, a solid defender and 3-pointer who’s made a handful of starts in two years with the program. The Cougars bring in four-star prospect Mouhamed Gueye, a 6-foot-11 prospect who played at Prolific Prep in Napa, California.
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