PULLMAN, Wash. — Last week was a big one for Washington State basketball fans. On Tuesday Mouhamed Gueye withdrew from the transfer portal to return to Pullman and the cherry on top? The Cougs landing Tennessee transfer guard Justin Powell.
"It's been a whirlwind that's for sure. It's been kind of hectic trying to figure out the right fit and stuff like that and making sure this is the right place," said Powell.
Powell is no stranger to making a big decision.
He started his college career at Auburn and then transferred to Tennessee last season. Now, the Kentucky native has found his next home in Pullman.
"You know, this is my third school in three years, so I have to make this the right fit. It has to be the right fit," said Powell. "I did a lot of research and a lot of my homework. They obviously did their homework on me too. Just finding the right fit, it was all about a bunch of different things."
Powell received interest from power five schools across the country, including one's much closer to home in the SEC, but, two key factors sold him on WSU.
"Just the relationship, you know, coach Smith, he's just a guy that you can genuinely have a good conversation with just not about basketball, but he's going to have your best interests," said Powell. "And then, you just want to go somewhere with an opportunity, a great fit. Stuff like that. I just wanted to go somewhere where I can showcase what I can do and kind of get back to where I was at Auburn."
He burst onto the scene as a Freshman at Auburn averaging over 11 points a game, but a concussion derailed his season allowing him to play in just 10 contests.
Then at Tennessee, he saw a smaller role averaging under 15 minutes per game.
Now, in Pullman working out with the team, he can already feel he's getting his groove back.
"It's the play style a lot right now and coach Smith has got that. Having him have the confidence in me being like 'here's the ball, go play' that's essentially what he's doing right now when we've been playing, so it's been great just to have that confidence back and go out there and have the ball in my hands, come off ball screens and be that player that I've always kind of been. It's just coming back out and it feels good being out there right now and being able to do stuff like that," said Powell.
Powell's hoping getting back to the player he knows he can be will lead to one thing.
"You know, I just want to win," said Powell. "I want to go to the NCAA Tournament, I want to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, I know everybody here wants to do that. So, you know, I think I can be a good leader for this team and lead everybody and I think I can lead us to that hopefully."