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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington State men’s hoops picked to finish 10th in preseason media poll

Washington State forward Andrej Jakimovski, center, puts up a shot under coverage from Oregon center N’Faly Dante, left, and Oregon guard Will Richardson in the first half on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won the game 68-65.  (Geoff Crimmins)

PULLMAN – If Washington State’s men’s basketball team makes a run to the top of the conference standings this winter, it will come as a surprise to the media.

The Cougars were picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, released Wednesday. The Cougars didn’t land anyone on the preseason all-conference first or second teams.

The Cougars will take the court this season with a new-look team, rolling out four-year veteran Andrej Jakimovski around transfers such as Joseph Yesufu (Kansas), Isaac Jones (Idaho) and Oscar Cluff (junior college).

That group will try to help WSU build off last season’s finish, an exit in the first round of the NIT.

Much for the Cougars will depend on the output of Jakimovski, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. Returning veteran Jabe Mullins is back after averaging 8.4 points per game last season.

WSU will also hope for a boost from Yesufu, a fifth-year senior who played 9.2 minutes per game during Kansas’ 2022 run to the national championship. Last season, he started three of 35 games, averaging 4.1 points in 12.7 minutes per game.

“I think the chemistry of the team is most important for our team’s success,” Jakimovski said in late September.

“We have really nice guys, on and off the court. We liked each other. We like to hang out on the court and also off the court. We have a couple of experienced guys like Joseph, Isaac, fifth-year seniors. So they’ve been through this journey. And I think, with my help and the help of coaches and other senior guys, we have a chance to have a great year this year.”