WSU Sports Information

Bravissimo! WSU hoops rookie Malachi Flynn serving notice in Italy

IF THE FIRST three games of the Washington State men’s basketball team’s summer trip to Italy are any indication, Cougar fans should get used to hearing the name Malachi Flynn. The reigning prep player of the year from the state of Washington has started every contest and averaged nearly 31 minutes per game in the process.

Flynn has hit double figures in two of the three outings while dishing out a collective 13 assists and grabbing 7 steals.

Three games in Italy does not a career make, especially when the player in question looks like he could topple over at the mere mention of the Pomeroy wind turbines. He’s 6-1 and 170-pounds, but his play in the Il Bel Paese suggests two things that could go far in a Cougar turnaround in 2016-17:

  • WSU will have more production out of the point this season; and
  • Ike Iroegbu and Josh Hawkinson won’t be the only scorers on the club.

Perhaps even more intriguing through the first half of the Italian swing is that Flynn has hit only 2 of his 11 shots from downtown – a trend line that doesn’t figure to continue because he established himself as an outstanding 3-point shooter during his storied career at Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep.

The good news for the Cougars doesn’t end there. Another touted true freshman guard – Milan Acquaah -- will be in uniform for WSU this season as well. On the Italy trip, however, he’s taking in the sights on crutches due to recent knee surgery. He’s expected to be ready for full participation in mid November.

The two of them – Flynn and Acquaah – are cornerstones in Kent’s plan to build the Cougars’ niche around speed and shooting.

Flynn’s emergence in Italy is greater than the sum of the parts.

With him and rising senior Charles Callison – plus Acquaah – handling chores at the point this season, Iroegbu can focus on playing the 2 and 3 – and possibly even the 4 with Hawkinson at the stretch-4. “That would put five 3-point shooters on the floor at once, all with skill and speed,” Cougar coach Ernie Kent told CF.C in this wide-ranging Q&A in May. “Ike’s body is strong enough that with the right matchup, he can play against a 4 who is 6-7. The question for the other team is whether that 6-7 guy can keep up with Ike.

Kent dubs Flynn “a very gifted basketball player -- a tremendous shooter and very driven to be successful. He just plays hard. One of the things we need to do is get him bigger and stronger and that process is already underway. He will have the ability to play multiple positions.”

Kent also said he sees Flynn and Acquaah spending a fair amount of time on the court at the same time.

AUGUST IS OBVIOUSLY TOO EARLY TO be pinning down the depth of the Cougars’ rotation once January hits with the Pac-12 schedule, but the first three games in Italy clearly paint a picture.

Three players (Flynn, Iroegbu and Hawkinson) are averaging more than 30 minutes per game and three others are between 18 and 23 minutes per game (Derrien King, Conor Clifford and Charles Callison).

The same five have started all three games: Hawkinson, Iroegbu, Flynn, Callison and Clifford. The Cougars are 2-1. Complete individual stats through the first three games can be found below.

NOTABLE:

  • The Cougars return from Italy on August 14. They open the regular season at home Nov. 11 against Montana State, then take on Central Washington in an exhibition in Kennewick before heading to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam Tournament.
  • Flynn isn't the only rookie making a mark on the Cougars' stat sheet in Italy. JC transfer K.J. Langston is scoring almost a point for every minute he's on the court. He's averaging 10.7 minutes and 9.0 points per game.
  • Flynn is related to a WSU legend. His sister Angelica, who was a track athlete at WSU, is married to the greatest 400 meter hurdler in WSU and Pac-12 history: Jeshua Anderson.
  • As a senior at Bellarmine Prep this past season, Flynn averaged 29.7 points per game and his 743 points broke the school's single-season scoring record that was held by current NBA player Avery Bradley. He was named the Washington state player of the year for all classifications by the Associated Press, as well as the AP’s State 4A Player of the Year and the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches’ Association 4A Player of the Year. 

RELATED STORY: DON'T FORGET BIGGER, STRONGER JEFF POLLARD

Cougar stats in Italy through 3:


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