Wash. St. turns to SF's Smith as next coach

Washington State hired San Francisco's Kyle Smith as its next men's basketball head coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Smith was given a six-year contract worth $1.4 million annually. He will be formally introduced at a news conference on Monday.

"We set a goal of finding the best head coach for Washington State University,'' athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. "Kyle Smith fulfilled all of our criteria in meeting this goal. Coach Smith has a proven record of success, a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for developing every aspect of his student-athletes. The methodology he has created in building basketball programs for sustainable excellence is like none other in the sport. We are fortunate to have Kyle leading our program.''

Smith has won at least 20 games in each of his three seasons at the University of San Francisco, going 63-30. The Dons were 21-10 overall and 9-7 in the West Coast Conference this season.

Before taking over at San Francisco, Smith was the head coach at Columbia for six seasons. He also was an assistant coach at Saint Mary's for nine seasons.

"When I think of Washington State basketball, I think of the great coaches that have been there, going back to Marv Harshman, George Raveling, Kelvin Sampson and then Tony Bennett, to name a few,'' Smith said in a statement. "The most recent success being Tony Bennett, who actually offered me a job when his dad left and he was appointed head coach. I've followed Tony's career, and he and I have often recruited some of the same types of players. He's obviously done great things, and he's always been kind of a mentor of mine. I just hope I can honor the tradition of those coaches that came before me.''

Washington State's last winning season came in 2011-12, when the Cougars finished 19-18 under Ken Bone. That's the situation Smith will inherit in landing his first major conference head-coaching job.

But Washington State might be the perfect spot for Smith to bring his analytics-based system. Smith got an unexpected and unsolicited recommendation for the job from former Washington State star and current Golden State Warriors standout Klay Thompson last week.

"Every program he's been at he's turned around. ... I think he'd be a great get,'' Thompson said.

Smith replaces Ernie Kent, who was fired earlier this month after five seasons in Pullman.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.