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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Williams’ decision to transfer to Washington certainly isn’t what Cougar fans’ wanted

Washington State guard Noah Williams, left, swipes a pass intended for Washington's Jamal Bey during a Pac-12 game Jan. 31, 2021 in Seattle.  (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Fresh out of college, broke and looking for work, we were offered a job as the interim sports information director at an Orange County college. One problem. It was at my alma mater’s rival school. Money or loyalty? We took the money. And some of my former teammates never forgave me.


• We offer this anecdote not as a history lesson but as context in the blockbuster news from Seattle yesterday. Yep, we’re referring to Noah Williams, the Husky-hating, Husky-busting former Washington State guard who announced on Instagram yesterday he was becoming … wait for it … a Husky.


Williams, whose dad played in Pullman, who gave our Theo Lawson great soundbites about his disdain for the University of Washington, who was 3-1 against the Dawgs in his Cougar tenure, has decided to trade crimson for purple.

Somewhere in basketball heaven, Marv Harshman understands. And so do we.

If Williams feels returning home to Seattle to play his last one or two years of college hoops is the best choice, that’s that. He has every right to do it. Especially since his star had fallen enough in Pullman that he was no longer starting, coming off the bench in each of WSU’s four NIT games. Others had supplanted Williams in Pullman and he felt it was time to move. It’s not an unusual attitude these days, what with the NCAA allowing one free transfer – a player doesn’t have to sit out a season – within a college career.

A fresh start. But that he picked the archrivals? Isn’t that a little off? Depends on your point of view.

As a competitor, Williams was going to do whatever he could to help Washington State win those rivalry games. If dissing the Huskies, making fun of the school and doing anything possible to get under their fans’ skin, was part of it, he was going to do it. That’s part of the game. His game.

Then life changes. Whatever Williams’ circumstances, he decided he needed a fresh start. And Washington was the right spot. We don’t know more than that. We respect it.

After all, we’ve been there. In the early 1970s, UC Irvine and Chapman College were baseball rivals. The games were as ugly as those between UW and WSU now, maybe even uglier. Someone you are familiar with may or may not have even instigated a bit of a brawl during a game. Hey, we’re sure they are not proud of it now but then? It was a way to contribute. After all, if a bullpen catcher on one team is tossed and a starter for the other, that’s a win, right?

But when Chapman offered gainful employment when that was sorely needed, the rivalry part of it was immaterial. Even if a couple former teammates considered it a traitor move.

It wasn’t. It was a necessity. Just as Williams may see this as a necessity. His last best chance, as it were, to make a mark that carries him into a long pro career.

He also has to understand not all of the Cougar faithful will be as understanding. In fact, he’s probably counting on it. The one thing even an outsider came to understand about Noah Williams the past few years is he thrives on disrespect. On disdain. On being in the bullseye.

He’s found it again. Good for him.

• Lexie Hull has been a success wherever she’s been and whatever she’s done. It started young and continues to this day. Academically, athletically, doesn’t matter. She’s always reached her potential.

Which makes her selection in the WNBA draft Monday night more expected than surprising. But that doesn’t mean going sixth overall to the Indiana Pacers wasn’t a bit eye-opening.

And not because of Hull’s abilities. We know and respect them. The fact they were respected at the same level by someone in the professional ranks is what was surprising.

Sure, anyone with eyes could see Hull can shoot and score. That’s easy. But it’s the other things she does on the court that often go overlooked. It’s almost as if she’s what people like to term “a glue guy.” With the ability to also score 30 any night.

It’s those other attributes, however, that matter to many coaches. The ability to guard relentlessly. The ability to rebound. The ability to find the open player. The ability to help her team win.

No, Lexie Hull’s talents are well known in Spokane. At Stanford. And now they’ll be appreciated in Indianapolis.


WSU: The Williams’ news hit like a bombshell among the Cougar faithful who reacted probably better than could be expected. Colton Clark has the coverage of the guard’s decision with a story we also linked above. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, Jim Allen has this story on the Hull news, centering around the family reaction in Liberty Lake. … Devin Culp, who attended Gonzaga Prep, is set to be the next great Washington tight end. … The Huskies are still dealing with the fallout of a five-star high school offensive lineman heading to Oregon. … The Ducks have their problems as well. … The defense is changing for Colorado. … UCLA is trying to build a foundation for the fall. … When Jayden Daniels left Arizona State, some of his teammates were not happy with him. A video surfaced showing their displeasure. He addressed that recently. … In basketball news, the Pac-12 had three of the first eight WNBA draft picks. Besides Hull, Oregon’s Nyara Sabally went fifth to New York and Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed eighth to Las Vegas. … Oregon State has hired former U. of Portland coach Eric Reveno away from Georgia Tech. He’ll serve as Wayne Tinkle top assistant. … USC’s Drew Peterson joins Isaiah Mobley in declaring for the NBA draft.

Gonzaga: The NBA regular season is over. Which means Jim Meehan takes his annual look at how the Zags around the league performed. There are a few more players to delve into, it seems, each season. … Around the WCC, BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood – long-time WSU basketball fans recognize that name – has resigned in the middle of the season. The decision seemed out of the blue.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, a player is leaving the Montana State men’s basketball program. … The exodus at Idaho State continues, with the top assistant at the women’s program headed out the door.

Preps: As one would expect, Dave Nichols has a roundup of Monday’s high schools sports action in the area. … Former Central Valley pitcher Kelsey Gumm tossed a no-hitter for the University of Dayton. That news leads off the S-R’s most recent local briefs column.

Mariners: Two wins. Then two losses. Through them both, little in the way of hitting for the M’s in Minnesota. Monday, two hits in a 4-0 defeat. … The new season means lots of changes.

Seahawks: It’s time for the answers to some of your questions.

Kraken: Seattle will take it slow with Matty Beniers.

Storm: A full roster means even though the Storm were able to find the right player to draft, she still may not make the team this season.


• We’re going out to dinner tonight. On a Tuesday? Yep. It’s Kim’s birthday. Time to celebrate. Have we ever mentioned how lucky we are? Until later …