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Washington State guard Noah Williams enters transfer portal after three seasons in Pullman

Washington State guard Noah Williams controls the ball during a Pac-12 game against Oregon State on March 3 in Pullman. Williams entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal Tuesday.  (Associated Press)
By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – Noah Williams, once considered a fast-rising name in the Pac-12 and perhaps the best player on Washington State’s basketball roster, has entered the NCAA transfer portal after an underwhelming third season in which his role and productivity diminished.

Verbal Commits reported over Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that the high-energy combo guard will explore playing his final two years of eligibility elsewhere.

Williams confirmed the report over Instagram later in the day.

“From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Coach (Kyle) Smith and the entire WSU Cougar family for showing me nothing but love and support my last 3 years out here in Pullman,” he wrote.

Williams broke out in 2019-20 as a true freshman, impressing coaches and fans with his perimeter defense, and providing a spark plug for the Cougars during coach Kyle Smith’s first year. Williams was one of Smith’s first WSU recruits.

As a sophomore, the Seattle native out of O’Dea honed his offense, adding an occasionally explosive shooting touch and finishing the year as WSU’s No. 2 scorer. He carried the Cougars in a weekend sweep of Cal and Stanford late in the season, scoring a combined 72 points.

Expected to contend for an All-Pac-12 nod ahead of this season, Williams underperformed. He averaged 9.5 points on just 33.2% shooting from the field and 26.2% on 3-pointers, adding 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game – all lower totals than his sophomore year, his shooting percentages especially.

Williams started 65 of 91 games played in a Cougars uniform. After starting every contest in 2020-21, he came off the bench in 10 games this year as sophomore guard TJ Bamba improved steadily.

By late in the year, it had become evident that Bamba offered stronger defense and more overall consistency, and would be the favorite to start at shooting guard in 2022-23. Williams didn’t start in any of the Cougars’ four NIT games.

The son of Guy Williams – a standout at WSU under coach George Raveling in the late 1970s/early ’80s – Noah Williams helped lift the Cougars’ program into respectable stature and gave the WSU faithful a number of cherished moments. Cougars fans won’t soon forget Williams quieting the Washington Huskies’ crowd and telling them, “This is my city,” after hitting game-clinching free throws as a freshman in Seattle. A video of the interaction still circulates among Cougar circles online.

Williams joins Cougar guards Jefferson Koulibaly and Ryan Rapp in the transfer portal.

Williams missed time in the preseason, presumably for disciplinary reasons stemming from an alleged scuffle with bouncers at a Pullman bar in September. Williams, then 20, had attempted to use a fake ID to enter Valhalla Bar and Grill and faced potential misdemeanors.

The Whitman County Prosecutors’ Office recently declined to pursue misdemeanor assault charges and ruled that Williams must perform eight hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and maintain good behavior for eight months for attempting to enter a bar using false identification.