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Sports >  WSU basketball

Washington State bolsters frontcourt, signs French forward Mael Hamon-Crespin

UPDATED: Sat., June 4, 2022

French big man Mael Hamon-Crespin signed Friday with Washington State's men's basketball program.  (WSU Athletics)
French big man Mael Hamon-Crespin signed Friday with Washington State's men's basketball program. (WSU Athletics)
By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – Mael Hamon-Crespin, a post from Paris who has the potential to carve out a playing role early in his collegiate career in Pullman, became Washington State’s fourth signee of the 2022 class when he inked a National Letter of Intent Friday.

“He is a skillful big man with size, which is an important piece to our puzzle,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said, quoted in a school news release. “With his ability to make 3s and stretch the floor, he will complement our lengthy and athletic frontcourt.”

The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Hamon-Crespin joins the Cougars after spending three years at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance – a prestigious junior program in Paris that boasts a long history of producing elite college recruits and future pros, including NBA notables such as Tony Parker, Clint Capela and Ronny Turiaf.

While enrolled at INSEP, Hamon-Crespin competed with Pole France of Nationale Masculine 1 – the third tier of professional play in the country. He averaged 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year in NM1 action.

Hamon-Crespin posted 11.7 ppg on 41.6% shooting in 22 minutes per game last year at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament, which features the top U18 hoops clubs in Europe. He scored 25 points in just 18 minutes in one game. Hamon-Crespin also participated with France’s U18 team in the 2021 FIBA European Challenge, logging per-game averages of 9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 24.4 minutes.

He chose WSU over offers from Saint Louis, Saint Mary’s, BYU and Oregon State, per 247Sports. Although Hamon-Crespin doesn’t have a star ranking on the recruiting site, he “projects as a potential four-star prospect in the class given his size, strength, ability to rebound, his hands and touch around the rim and skill set,” according to an article published in November from 247Sports national analyst Travis Branham. Hamon-Crespin’s upside is on the offensive end. He is an adept passer with slick footwork who runs the floor well and can hit jumpers.

Under Smith, the Cougars have turned Pullman into a destination for international recruits. Since taking over in early 2019, WSU’s staff has signed nine from overseas.

Hamon-Crespin, 17, is one of two international bigs in WSU’s 2022 class, along with four-star 7-footer Adrame Diongue, who hails from Senegal. The Cougars’ other off-season additions are guards Jabe Mullins – a transfer from Saint Mary’s – and Central Valley High grad Dylan Darling.

WSU has three open scholarships remaining. The team is awaiting word from 6-11 post Mouhamed Gueye, who is exploring his transfer options after withdrawing from the NBA draft pool earlier this week. Gueye is reportedly considering a return to Pullman for his sophomore season. Efe Abogidi, a standout forward for WSU over the past two seasons, is expected to sign a contract with G League Ignite, per Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

Should Gueye return, the Cougars’ frontcourt won’t be short on depth or talent. Hamon-Crespin and Diongue are presumably immediate-impact signees, and WSU is bringing back center Dishon Jackson for his junior season.

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