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Sports >  WSU basketball

Washington State basketball program announces hiring of assistant coach Wayne Hunter

June 28, 2022 Updated Tue., June 28, 2022 at 9:41 p.m.

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – Washington State’s basketball program made official a change in personnel on Tuesday, announcing Wayne Hunter as the team’s new assistant coach.

Hunter is replacing Derrick Phelps, who recently stepped down from his post after spending three seasons serving under Cougars head coach Kyle Smith.

A Saint Mary’s alumnus and a former Gaels assistant, Hunter assisted at his alma mater last season following a brief stint on WSU’s staff. He had been hired as the Cougars’ recruiting coordinator last summer but soon after accepted a coaching offer from SMC.

“We are extremely fortunate having Wayne on board,” Smith said of Hunter, quoted in a WSU release. “He is coming from a Saint Mary’s program that has been in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT the last 15 seasons.”

Hunter was a standout guard for SMC in the late 2000s and first crossed paths with Smith at the Moraga, California, school – Smith assisted for the Gaels between 2001-10.

“I have had the pleasure of recruiting and coaching Wayne as an assistant, and I am thrilled to work with him as a member of our staff,” Smith said. “Wayne will play a big role on the floor coaching. He will have a hand in all facets of our program, and he will specialize with working with the guards. His familiarity with our coaching style and our analytics will be vital.”

The Gaels compiled a 26-8 overall record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Hunter’s one season on staff. Hunter landed his first college gig in 2020, joining UC Riverside as an assistant coach. Defensive analytics and scouting were his specialties with the Highlanders.

Hunter began his coaching career in the California prep ranks. He worked at four high school programs in the state and coached the West Coast Elite Nor-Cal AAU team, which consistently ranked as one of the top squads in the National Under Armour Association Circuit.

“Wayne will also play a key role in recruiting,” Smith said. “He has strong ties in the West with a strong connection to the Bay Area. Wayne is a talented assistant with a bright future. We are thrilled to have him with us.”

Phelps’ next coaching stop isn’t determined. He reportedly left WSU to be closer to his East Coast family.

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