Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now
WSU Men's Basketball

Washington State hires EWU coach David Riley as next head coach, school announces

Coach David Riley led Eastern Washington to a pair of Big Sky regular-season basketball titles in his three seasons guiding the Eagles.  (Courtesy of EWU athletics)

PULLMAN – Washington State’s next head basketball coach won’t have to travel far to his new home.

WSU is hiring Eastern Washington men’s basketball coach David Riley, the school announced Tuesday, ending an eight-day coaching search in the wake of former coach Kyle Smith’s departure for Stanford last week.

“We are thrilled to have David Riley leading our men’s basketball program as we look to build on this season’s success,” WSU interim AD Anne McCoy said via release. “Throughout the process, Dave’s coaching acumen was evident as was his ability to create a winning culture. In just three seasons, he has emphasized player development through a fast-paced, high powered offense that allows his student-athletes to play free and confidently.”

Riley signed a six-year deal, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

Riley, 35, was born in Seattle and played at Division III Whitworth . In three seasons as head coach at EWU, Riley led the Eagles to an overall record of 62-38 (42-14 Big Sky) with two conference regular-season titles and two postseason appearances, his first season in The Basketball Classic and his second in the NIT.

The Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2023 and 2024, Riley’s EWU teams own two wins over WSU: in the first round of last season’s NIT and in the 2021-22 regular season, both in Pullman. He has shown he can beat and hang with power conference opponents, beating California in 2022 and taking a late lead on Washington a few months ago in Seattle.

The fourth-youngest Division I head coach last season, Riley doesn’t have much head coaching experience. He has spent his entire coaching career at EWU, where he worked as director of basketball operations in 2011-2014 before becoming an assistant coach from 2014 to 2021.

Riley’s Eagles teams have disappointed in March, however. As the Big Sky Tournament’s top seed each of the past two years, they dropped their first game in both of those tournaments.

“I am incredibly grateful to President Schulz, Interim Athletic Director Anne McCoy and the athletic department leadership team for allowing me the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program,” Riley said via release. “WSU is a dream job and embodies everything that college athletics is about.”

Riley is likely WSU’s second choice. On Monday, WSU offered the job to Montana State head coach Matt Logie, according to reports, but Logie turned down the offer to stay at MSU, which responded with an extension with a pay bump.

The Cougars also went away from associate head coach Jim Shaw, who interviewed for the position but was informed he was out of the running last week, multiple sources confirmed to The Spokesman-Review. Over the weekend, in a statement to The S-R, Shaw said he was deciding between following Smith to Stanford or accepting another offer.

Riley may have to work to reconstruct the Washington State roster. In the days after Smith’s departure, 10 Cougars have entered the transfer portal, including guard Myles Rice, senior wing Andrej Jakimovski, junior center Oscar Cluff and true freshman center Rueben Chinyelu, all of whom started last season. Six reserves have also hit the portal.

All 10 retain the option to return to WSU.

As of Tuesday, WSU still has two key pieces in junior wing Jaylen Wells and true freshman guard Isaiah Watts, both of whom played important roles last season. Watts came on strongly toward the end of the season, which ended in the Cougs’ first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years.

Last season, EWU guard LeJuan Watts won Big Sky Freshman of the Year honors, and junior wing Cedric Coward landed on the all-conference first team. Junior forward Ethan Price and junior wing Casey Jones earned second-team honors, and Jones also landed on the all-defensive team.

Last season, EWU played one of the country’s toughest nonconference schedules, coming in 18th nationally, according to KenPom. That’s one reason EWU ranked low nationally in some metrics, such as 262nd in defensive efficiency and No. 336 in 3-point defense, allowing a mark of 36.9%.

But EWU scored exceptionally well, coming in fourth nationally with an effective field-goal percentage of 57.2%. The Eagles also made 58.7% of their shots inside the arc, sixth nationally. Coward, who started his career at Division III Willamette, ranked 14th nationally in true shooting at 66.2%.

Riley’s father Ed is an anesthesiologist at Stanford. His uncle Mike Riley is the former head football coach at Oregon State and Nebraska.