For months, Washington State basketball fans wondered how Kyle Smith would meet the 13-man scholarship limit prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, especially on the heels of adding players such as Mouhamed Gueye, Michael Flowers and Kim Aiken Jr.
Those questions were partially answered last week, when former four-star recruit Andrej Jakimovski entered the transfer portal and again on Tuesday when 7-foot center Volodymyr Markovetskyy followed him there, per VerbalCommits.com.
Markovetskyy’s departure would bring the Cougars down to 14 scholarship players. That’s one over the threshold, but forward Tony Miller won’t count toward the scholarship limit as a second-year senior, due to a COVID-19 waiver passed by the NCAA.
The Spokesman-Review learned last week Miller was rejoining WSU’s basketball program after missing extended time last season for personal reasons. Point guard Isaac Bonton isn’t expected to return to the Cougars in 2021-22, but he too would qualify for the COVID-19 exemption if he made a last-minute decision to pull his name from the NBA draft and play one more season in Pullman.
Markovetskyy was part of Smith’s first signing class with the Cougars and started six games over the last two seasons. The 7-foot-1, 270-pound center played in 45 total games at WSU and developed into one of the team’s best rim protectors last season, averaging 2.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 10.9 minutes per game.
As a freshman, Markovetskyy broke out with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double in the regular season finale at Arizona State and played 14 key minutes in WSU’s Pac-12 Tournament win over Colorado – the school’s first conference tournament victory in over a decade. The Truskavets, Ukraine, native averaged 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game as a freshman.
Without Markovetskyy to pad WSU’s depth in the frontcourt, the Cougars will lean heavily on Dishon Jackson at center in 2021-22. Fellow sophomore Efe Abogidi is capable of filling the center role in certain lineups and it’s possible the Cougars would turn to their 6-foot-11 freshman, Gueye, though he projects more as a small or power forward.
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