Cougs officially bring in Aiken Jr. from EWU
PULLMAN, Wash. – A familiar face is headed to the Palouse as Washington State men's basketball head coach Kyle Smith announced the official signing of Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Kim Aiken Jr. (Redlands, Calif.). Aiken Jr. comes to the Cougs from Eastern Washington where he spent three seasons playing for the Eagles. The athletic wing joins Tyrell Roberts, who signed a few weeks prior, as official transfers joining the Cougs for the 2021-22 season.
"We are excited to have Kim joining us in Pullman," said Smith. "We have had to game plan and prepare for him the last two years and it has not been easy, so we know we are getting a good one. Kim brings strength, athleticism, and an edge to our team. He can stretch the defense with his shooting ability and gives us another impact defender as evidenced by him receiving Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. He can switch 1-5 which is vital in today's game and is a terrific rebounder. We are counting on his maturity and winning pedigree to help lead our group to the next level."
A defensive specialist who can also score when called upon, Aiken Jr. helped lead the Eagles to a conference tournament championship in 2020-21 and a near upset of No. 3 seed Kansas in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. One of just two Eagles to play and start all 24 games last season, Aiken Jr. became just the second EWU player all-time to earn conference defensive player of the year honors while he also picked up First Team All-Big Sky recognition for his play on the court. On the year, Aiken Jr. averaged 11.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, including 6.6 defensive rebounds per game both of which led the Big Sky. Additionally, he was efficient with his offense shooting 43.8% from the field and 81.7% from the line. On the defensive end, the lanky forward led the Eagles to a record year holding opponents to 41.7% shooting from the floor and 31.4% shooting from deep, well below the team's previous best marks in Division I play. Individually he finished the season with 32 steals and 25 blocks.
Against the Cougs last season, Aiken Jr. finished with 14 points and eight rebounds as WSU came back for a 71-68 win over Eastern Washington in Pullman. The year prior in a closed door scrimmage he finished with 19 points and three rebounds including hitting 5-of-8 from deep against the Cougs in Cheney.
Throughout his three seasons at EWU, Aiken posted 877 points, 649 rebounds, 103 steals, and 76 blocks. Off the court, Aiken Jr. is a two-time all-academic honoree with the 2021 team still to be announced at the time of this release.