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WSU Men's Basketball

‘I’m focused on being a pro’: Washington State post Mouhamed Gueye has sights on NBA

Washington State post Mouhamed Gueye attempts a free throw during a game against Stanford on Jan. 14 at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.  (WSU Athletics)

PULLMAN – After distinguishing himself as one of the Pac-12’s top talents, Mouhamed Gueye is looking to move up a level.

Coming off a stellar sophomore season, the Washington State big man has his sights set on the NBA.

“I’m not gonna lie – right now, it’s pro in my mind,” Gueye said recently when asked about his plans for the near future. “I don’t want to have the mindset, like, ‘Maybe I’m coming back (to college).’ It can happen. You never know. But I’m focused on being a pro. After that, whatever happens, happens.”

Gueye remains on campus at WSU, making sure he is fully recovered before launching into the NBA draft process. He shouldered a tremendous workload throughout the year, leading to wear and tear on his body. Gueye missed only one game – he was sidelined with a hamstring injury during the Cougars’ season finale, a loss to Eastern Washington on March 14 in the first round of the NIT.

“I’ve gotta get healthy again, then I can start working out again and get ready for the process,” he said. “It was just the load. I played a lot of minutes this season. I can’t start thinking about the process until I get healthy. My people are telling me just to get healthy, then they’ll tell me about the process. They don’t want me to think about it right now.”

In the coming months, Gueye intends to visit with professional organizations and gauge interest ahead of the NBA draft, which begins June 22.

The 6-foot-11, 215-pounder from Senegal is the No. 50-ranked prospect for the draft, according to ESPN. Multiple media outlets predict Gueye will be selected in the middle or later stages of the second round.

“You just gotta go through it and see what the feedback is,” Gueye said. “After that, you just have to make a choice. Are you comfortable with what they’re offering you, or do you want something better for yourself?”

If an NBA team were to offer a second-round guarantee, Gueye figures there’s an 80% chance that he’d take it.

“First round would be a no-brainer,” he said. “Second round is probably 80/20. That would be a tough decision to make, for sure. … If I’m being picky, then next year I could be a lottery (selection).”

Gueye also tested the NBA draft waters last offseason. He spent a couple of months gathering insights from pro franchises. In the end, Gueye’s draft stock wasn’t as high as he’d hoped, so he withdrew and returned to WSU. Gueye had also entered the NCAA transfer portal last year to explore all of his options – he doesn’t plan to do that again.

Gueye made a significant jump from year to year and feels confident with the work he put on tape this season.

“Honestly, I think the (NBA) teams have seen enough,” he said.

An all-conference freshman team honoree in 2021-22, Gueye made 33 starts during that season. He averaged 22 minutes, 7.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 block and 0.5 assists per game while shooting 49.1% from the field (109 of 222) and 49.3% from the foul line.

His responsibilities expanded as a sophomore after the Cougars lost a couple of key pieces in their frontcourt. Forward Efe Abogidi signed with G League Ignite, a developmental pro program, in the offseason. Center Dishon Jackson, a projected starter, announced in September that he’d be sidelined indefinitely due to an unspecified medical issue. That forced Gueye to slide over to center after playing power forward last season. His positional versatility should appeal to NBA teams.

“I’m not a ‘5,’ but with everything that happened, I had to play the ‘5,’ ” said Gueye, who put on about 12 pounds leading up to the season. “At first, I was definitely struggling, but it’s just basketball at the end of the day. In the modern game, the ‘5’ can do pretty much everything.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I’m that guy. Because Efe left and a lot of other people left, I had a big role. I showed that I can be that guy.”

Gueye became the centerpiece of WSU’s offense. Coach Kyle Smith reiterated throughout the season that the team “plays through Gueye.”

He embraced the new challenges and landed on the All-Pac-12 first team. Gueye averaged 32 minutes, 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 48.8% from the floor (186 of 381) and 67.4% from the free-throw line. He led the Pac-12 and finished 16th nationally with 15 double-doubles.

“I really worked on all of my game, but my confidence got the biggest boost,” Gueye said. “Being in the position where they’re giving you the ball a lot – having the ball more showcased my talent. I’ve been a good passer, but just didn’t have the ball enough. I enjoyed it a lot.

“It’s fun controlling the game, controlling the pace. When I get the ball, I wait for doors to open. If not, I just go to work. The coaches having the trust to give me the ball a lot really helped me.”

Notable improvements from Gueye’s freshman to sophomore seasons include his passing abilities, and efficiency on foul shots and pull-up jumpers from short range. He shot 11 of 40 on 3-pointers.

“My freshman year, it was tough. I was (inefficient) at the line and I wasn’t shooting a lot of jump shots, either,” he said. “My freshman year, it was just dunks or the fadeaway I have. The work during the summer really paid off. … And being more comfortable with the game – if you know the program and know what the coaches want, it gets easier every year.”

Gueye said he became a more patient player and took strides in his decision-making over the course of the year. Earlier in the season, he had an issue with turnovers as opponents sent constant double-teams.

“I was turning the ball over like crazy, but I adjusted to it,” he said. “Now, people can’t really double me because I can make great passes. I felt like just taking my time, slowing the game down was my biggest adjustment.”

Gueye has only been playing organized basketball for four years.

“The more I played, the better it was for me,” he said.

At age 16, Gueye moved from Dakar, Senegal, to the United States and enrolled at Prolific Prep, a prestigious hoops academy in Napa, California. Two years later, he was a four-star player and a top-50 prospect in the country. Gueye chose WSU over several other high-major offers. He is the Cougars’ No. 4-rated recruit since 2000, per

Even as a raw true freshman, it was clear that Gueye had pro potential. As a sophomore, he took his game to another level .

“Four years ago, I was at home (in Dakar), not thinking anything about basketball, just having fun with it and playing soccer,” he said. “It’s pretty crazy when I think about my journey so far. But I’m just trying to keep going, trying to improve. It’s kind of normal to me, like, ‘What’s next?’ ”