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Assistant Derrick Phelps to leave Washington State; Cougs set to hire former Saint Mary’s assistant Wayne Hunter

Washington State assistant coach Derrick Phelps sits down for an interview with WSU's athletic media department earlier this year. After three seasons with the Cougars, Phelps is stepping down from his position.  (WSU Athletics)
By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – Derrick Phelps, a longtime assistant under Washington State basketball coach Kyle Smith, is stepping down from his post with the Cougars, who have already found his replacement.

Smith told earlier this week that Phelps will depart WSU – in order to rejoin his family on the East Coast – and be replaced on the bench by Wayne Hunter, who served as an assistant at Saint Mary’s last season.

Phelps worked under Smith at Columbia (2014-16) and San Francisco (2016-19) before both moved on to WSU. Phelps took point on the development of the Cougars’ guards over the past three seasons.

From Queens, New York, Phelps starred for prep heavyweight Christ the King and won a national championship in 1993 while playing guard for the University of North Carolina. He spent 16 years as a professional, making stops all around the world before landing an assistant job at Monmouth in 2011. Phelps’ next coaching job has yet to be determined, Smith told Cougfan.

Hunter assisted with the Gaels for one season after a brief stint on WSU’s staff. He was brought on as the Cougars’ recruiting coordinator last summer but only stayed in the position for a couple of months before Saint Mary’s hired him away. Hunter helped coach Randy Bennett’s Gaels to a 26-8 overall record and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to WSU and SMC, Hunter assisted for UC Riverside from 2019-21. He worked in various roles as a high school coach in California before breaking into the Division I ranks.

Hunter, a native of Maine, played guard at Saint Mary’s from 2005-10 under Bennett and Smith – a Gaels assistant from 2001-10 – and averaged 7.5 points per game across 49 starts.

Hunter will take over Phelps’ spot on the bench, but the rest of the team’s staff remains unchanged. Jim Shaw and John Andrzejek return as associate head coach and assistant, respectively. Derrick Wrobel is back for his second season as recruiting coordinator and Anthony Lorenzo is entering his third year as coordinator of operations.