Ernie Kent returns to Pac-12 as Washington State Men's Basketball Coach

March 31, 2014

The Pac-12 had a bounce back year in men's hoops this season, as UCLA once again established itself as a power program, Arizona earned a number one seed, and several teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament.  Today it was learned that a familiar face will be rejoining the conference's coaching ranks with the aim of continuing the league's upward trend.

In a press release issued today, Washington State University announced that veteran coach Ernie Kent will become the 18th Cougar men's basketball head coach.  Kent was signed to a five-year deal, and a press conference will be held Wednesday, April 2, to introduce him to the media.

“I’m looking forward to providing the kind of passion and leadership to help potential student-athletes understand how special WSU is,” Kent said. “Getting back into coaching for me has meant finding the right program that matches up with my passion, my  vision, my  beliefs and my commitment; and I feel Washington State University fits all that criteria for me. Bill Moos has a vision and has created enormous energy around Cougar Athletics and I want to be a part of that. Now is the time."

“As a player I saw the energetic environment that George Raveling’s teams created, as an assistant I witnessed Kelvin Sampson’s squads and saw the magic here and as a head coach I saw the excitement created by Tony Bennett. When WSU is having success, Beasley Coliseum is one of the best environments in the West. The students are so passionate, I saw 5,000 of them out there ready to go during warm-ups, one of the few places I’ve ever witnessed that. When you’ve seen that arena full and the program was at its best and now you have the opportunity to lead that program and you understand the potential that exists, that is very special to me.”

With 19 years of head coaching experience, Kent recently spent 13 years as the head coach at his alma mater, Oregon, beginning with the 1997-98 season until the 2009-10 season.  At Oregon, his teams were known for their uptempo offense and exciting perimeter players.

Kent compiled a 235-174 (.575) record and a 109-125 (.466) conference mark with the Ducks. His 109 conference wins rank 17th most in Pac-12 history (including Pacific-8 and Pacific-10 Conferences). Kent led the Ducks to seven postseason appearances, including five NCAA Tournament Appearances (2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008) as well as a Pac-10 regular-season (2002) and two conference tournament (2003, 2007) titles.

Kent took two Oregon teams to the NCAA Elite Eight (2002 and 2007) and guided the Ducks to the NIT Final Four on two occasions (1999, 2004). Kent helped produce four NBA First Round Draft selections and became Oregon’s all-time wins leader. He was named the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Kent has spent the last two seasons as a college basketball analyst for Pac-12 Networks after four years as an analyst for Fox Sports Net.

“I am excited that Ernie will be the leader of our men’s basketball program,” Director of Athletics Bill Moos said. “I have witnessed firsthand his many talents. He has proven that he can win championships in our conference. Together we saw tremendous success at his alma mater and I have every reason to expect to see the same at mine.”

Kent has also been involved with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) as he was the president during the 2011-12 season and is currently the associate executive director of the NABC.

He has a 325-254 (.561) overall mark as a head coach, having spent six seasons at the helm for Saint Mary’s prior to Oregon.

“Ernie Kent comes to WSU with sterling credentials and the necessary skill set to take the basketball program to higher levels of achievement,” former Washington State head coach George Raveling (1973-83) said. “He has been a part of the growth of the Pac-12 from eight teams to 10 teams and now to 12 teams, he has lived the history and growth of the conference. Ernie clearly understands what it takes to achieve success in one the most difficult conferences in the country. Congratulations to ‘Cougar Nation,’ I’m excited about the selection and wish Ernie nothing but success.”

From 1980 through 1987, Kent lived in Saudi Arabia where he coached the al-Khaleej Club in Sayhat for three years, helping the team advance to the playoffs each year. He also worked for the Arabian American Oil Company in Dhahran.

Kent has served as head coach, assistant coach and committee member for USA Basketball, winning a pair of gold medals in 2001 and 2003. He has coached some of the world’s greatest players, including NBA All-Stars and 2008 Olympic gold medalists Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh,  Andre Iguodala, and Deron Williams.

A 1977 graduate of Oregon with a degree in community service and public affairs, Kent averaged 7.1 points and 1.8 rebounds during his four-year basketball career with the Ducks (1974-77).

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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