One year after pulling in one of the top classes in program history, Kyle Smith and Washington State show no signs of slowing down on the recruiting trail.
The Cougars bolstered their 2021 roster with the addition of three transfers this offseason, but they apparently had one more move up their sleeve, picking up a commitment on Friday from four-star prospect Mouhamed Gueye.
A Senegalese-born prospect who plays for Napa, California-based academy Prolific Prep, Gueye is considered the sixth-rated power forward in the 2022 class, the eighth-best prospect in his state and the No. 34 recruit in the country. The 6-foot-11, 215-pound Gueye overtakes Klay Thompson as the top prospect to commit to WSU since the dawn of the recruiting era.
In an interview with ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein, Gueye indicated he’d been recruited by WSU’s coaching staff – primarily by Smith and assistant John Andrzejek – since he moved to the United States from Senegal and tracked the team last season as the Cougars secured their first winning record in nearly a decade.
“We had a great relationship with me and coach Smith and coach John,” Gueye said. “I was watching them last year through the Pac-12. They had a really good season. I was watching the players, I was watching Efe (Abogidi), I was watching (TJ) Bamba. I kind of see myself in the program, like how they run, their style of play. And talking with coach Kyle and coach John, I feel like they know me, what I can do and what I can be.”
Although Gueye is listed as a 2022 prospect, multiple websites have indicated he plans to graduate early from Prolific Prep and reclassify to the 2021 recruiting class, joining the Cougars ahead of their 2021-22 season.
To secure Gueye’s commitment, WSU needed to fend off blue bloods such as Kansas and UCLA. Rutgers also offered him a scholarship, and Gueye told Finkelstein he also heard from Kentucky, Illinois and California.
It’s not uncommon for 150-160 Division I programs to come through Prolific Prep in a given year, but the NCAA-mandated dead period that’s been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic limited access for programs hoping to get a glimpse of the next wave of Prolific standouts.
Gueye’s addition is another representation of the extraordinary recruiting work Smith has done in his two-plus seasons at WSU. The former San Francisco coach has grabbed commitments from recruits rated No. 1 (Gueye), No. 6 (Andrej Jakimovski), No. 7 (Carlos Rosario), No. 12 (Dishon Jackson), No. 15 (Myles Rice), No. 16 ( Bamba) and No. 17 ( Abogidi) in school history.
At nearly 7 feet tall and with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, Gueye is a fearless rim protector and constant lob threat on the offensive end, not unlike current WSU starter Abogidi, another African-born center with impressive length and elite athleticism. Gueye is also a reliable 3-point shooter with long arms that will allow him to get his shot off over the majority of defenders.
“I think I’m a big who can do it all. I can guard the ball one through five, I can run the floor, I can shoot, I can handle the ball,” Gueye said. “I don’t like to say it, but I think I’m a unicorn. I can do it all.”
Gueye moved to the United States from Dakar, Senegal, to play at Prolific Prep, an academy that’s sent dozens of players to the Power Five level since 2015. Jalen Green, a 6-5 combo guard who was considered the nation’s second overall recruit last year before skipping college to play in the G-League, was a teammate of Gueye’s at Prolific Prep.
Next season, Gueye joins a frontcourt that could be among the most formidable in the Pac-12 as the Cougars return two talented underclassmen in Abogidi and Jackson, along with Jakimovski and DJ Rodman. WSU recently added transfer forward Kim Aiken Jr., the Big Sky’s reigning defensive player of the year.
The recent additions of Gueye and Aiken brought into question WSU’s scholarship allotment for the 2021-22 season.
As of now, the Cougars are returning 10 nonseniors in Ryan Rapp, Noah Williams, Volodymyr Markovetskyy and Rodman, Abogidi, Bamba, Jefferson Koulibaly, Jackson, Andrej Jakimovski and Carlos Rosario. They’ve added three transfers in Michael Flowers, Tyrell Roberts and Aiken, along with two high school players: Gueye and Myles Rice.
Flowers may be considered a “super-senior,” which means he wouldn’t count against the scholarship limit.
In that case, the Cougars would be just one player over the limit, and it’s unclear if any member of the current team plans to enter the transfer portal.