ERNIE KENT just made it official: Ed Haskins, one of the titans of Seattle’s legendary basketball-talent-producing scene, is joining the hoops staff at Washington State. The move is nothing less than head turning for this simple reason: Haskins will be the first of Seattle’s esteemed basketball mentors over the last two decades to join one of the region’s four Pac-12 coaching staffs.
"My big news is I have offered the job of assistant coach to Ed Haskins and he has accepted,” Kent said this morning on Bill Moos’ weekly radio show on KXLY in Spokane.
Haskins has five state championships on his resume between his tenure as head coach at Garfield High and, previously, as an assistant to Mike Bethea at Rainier Beach High.
The list of players Haskins has helped mentor over the years, both in high school and AAU ball, is a roll call of the area’s finest, ranging from Jamal Crawford to Isaiah Thomas.
"The reason that stood out in my mind, why I needed him in this program, is not only because he is an outstanding basketball coach and basketball mind, but the mentoring that I saw him do first-hand (at) Garfield that I think it’s just a huge plus to have him in our program," said Kent, who called the hire a no-brainer.
"It’s an honor to be a part of Washington State basketball … I just can’t wait to get started," addedHaskins.
Moos said, "This coach who is now a part of our Cougar family is the real deal.”
The parade of hoops talent coming out of Seattle over the last 20 years is so prominent that Sports Illustrated devoted this 2010 feature story to the topic. And yet, Haskins is the first of the men who have helped build this dynasty, to land a whistle at one of the five major hoops schools closest to the community. Until today, the nearest to get there was Mike Nowell, who went from Haskins’ side at Garfield to the staff at Seattle U of the Western Athletic Conference in 2014. Nowell, the father of current Garfield star (and UW signee) Jaylen Nowell passed away from cancer in 2015.
Haskins, head coach at Garfield since 2008, attended WSU in 1992-93 and is the younger brother of Aaron Haskins, who played for two NCAA Tournament teams at WSU under George Raveling in the early 1980s.
Haskins, 44, is a graduate of Eastern Washington University and Clover Park High near Tacoma.
WITH HASKINS COMING ON BOARD AT WSU, it’s clear Kent – who with assistant coach Curtis Allen has had recruiting success in the south Puget Sound area – wants to extend that footprint into Seattle proper.
The Cougars landed the last two state Players of the Year who came out of the south sound – Tacoma’s Malachi Flynn (a rising WSU sophomore) and Federal Way’s Viont’e Daniels (a rising junior) – and they also picked up promising rising junior Robert Franks out of Vancouver, Wash., in 2015. Those three, coupled with the record-setting rise of Shoreline’s Josh Hawkinson under Kent, go a long way toward making the Cougars a heavily homegrown program. (All four are pictured above with Haskins in the gray jacket and Allen in the We Are shirt.)
But without a scholarship player from the state’s talent mecca – Seattle – the homegrown banner doesn’t truly fly.
The elevation of Haskins could go a long way toward rounding out the homegrown picture for WSU.
"And now we get a two-time former (state) coach of the year - I just think it speaks volumes to where our program is headed and I'm just thrilled," said Kent.
The respect for Haskins in Seattle, as both a basketball mind and a role model for young men, is deep and wide.
A year ago, Haskins was asked by the Northwest Facts newspaper why he got into coaching:
“It has and will always be about helping kids find their way. I was blessed to have role models before me and coaching seemed like the best way to continue to give back … There will always be ups and downs but at the end of the day the ability to have a positive impact on the lives of our youth is what it’s all about.”
In remaking his staff, Kent is taking action here that acknowledges an immutable truth in West Coast basketball: the parade of talent coming out of Seattle all these years didn’t happen by accident. These kids were developed and mentored by great coaches. And now one of them will be on the sidelines at Washington State.
* Kent said he plans to fill his other assistant coach opening by the end of this month. "I'm going to take my time to make sure I get the right fit," said Kent.
* In nine seasons as head coach at Garfield, Haskins compiled a 213-34 record and has the highest winning percentage (.862) for a head coach in GHS history. He was named the 2016 Tacoma News Tribune Coach of the Year, the 2015 Seattle Metro League Coach of the Year, and the 2009 and 2012 KingCo Conference Coach of the Year. Haskins led Garfield to the 3A Boys State Championship in 2015 and the 4A State Championship in 2014.\
* In WSU's official press release announcing the hire, Haskins said: "Since the first time I came over to Pullman when I was around 8 or 9 years old and I watched my brother (Aaron) step on the court when he played for Coach (George) Raveling, I wanted to be a part of Washington State basketball. It was dream of mine and from that time, around 1980, to now, this is a dream fulfilled for me. I am passionate about Washington State, and always have been, even on the other side of the mountains. I am extremely grateful to Coach Kent for the opportunity that he's afforded me to fulfill a life-long dream. At this point he renewed that passion for Cougar basketball when we sat down and talked about his vision and where he hopes to take the program. To be a part of that is monumental. He can coach and I believe we'll turn the whole program, town and Pac-12 around."