More and More EWU Athletes Are Taking Their Games to the Next Level


Brad Brown for The Easterner

EWU Senior Jake Wiley attacking the rim against Weber State on Feb. 23

By Logan Stanley, Copy Editor

As the saying goes, times are a changin’. Your beloved EWU athletes are no longer just local novelties — they are now apart of the national conversation in their respective sports.

Cooper Kupp hails from Yakima, Washington, a moderately sized city tucked away in central Washington. He garnered little attention as a wide receiver prospect coming out of high school, evident in the mere two Division I scholarship offers he received. He took one of those offers, from EWU, and headed east to the little town we know as Cheney.

From there, Kupp took off on the football field. He now owns 15 FCS records and is recognized as one of the most prolific wide receivers in college football history. Even with that, Kupp still had work to do in terms of establishing himself as a legitimate NFL prospect. And he did just that, first with his performance at the Senior Bowl back in January.

The press coverage Kupp started to draw was staggering — from NFL Network to Bleacher Report, it was diverse and vast. He was seemingly everywhere online, and it was a sight to see Kupp on the big screen. Some of the chatter began to subside a tad after the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but that would not be the case for long.

After a solid pro day, Kupp was able to squash some of the concern surrounding him. That was clearly the case, as the Los Angeles Rams selected Kupp with the 69th overall pick in Round 3. Since being drafted, Kupp has been a focal point of the Rams’ social media. Looking at their timeline on Twitter, and it’s filled with Kupp-related material.

We can not forget about fellow draftee—and more notably, former teammate—Samson Ebukam. The Rams also clearly favor Ebukam, who they traded 16 spots up in the draft to select. He too has been receiving attention in the Rams’ social media campaign. Why does this all matter? A year ago, very few outside of the state of Washington knew who those two were. Now, the same cannot be said. EWU athletics are producing athletes to the big stage.

They are not the only ones. Another former Eagle looks poised to make that next step to the professional level.

While basketball player Jake Wiley was here for only one year, that does not mean he is any less of an Eagle than Kupp or Ebukam. Since finishing his lone season at EWU, Wiley has been preparing for the NBA Draft.

A graduate-transfer from Lewis-Clark State, Wiley bursted onto the scene at EWU with his stellar play in the Big Sky, earning him MVP honors. Wiley participated in the Portsmouth Invitational in April, a prestigious tournament that is attended by a handful of NBA scouts. The attention didn’t stop there.

Following the invitational, Wiley worked out privately for the Los Angeles Lakers in front of head coach Luke Walton and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.

And just last week, a longform article on Wiley from CBS Sports was released. Written by Matt Norlander, the piece has sparked a conversation on Wiley and brought the former EWU forward to the forefront of the NBA Draft conversation.

From getting interviewed by The Easterner and playing on Reese Court, to getting featured by CBS Sports and sharing the same court with Magic Johnson, Wiley has made quite the jump.

EWU athletics are entering a new era. Soon, they’ll be able to boast ‘Cooper Kupp, NFL wide receiver,’ ‘Samson Ebukam, NFL linebacker,’ and hopefully soon, ‘Jake Wiley, NBA forward.’ Cheney is making a name for itself. Watch out, Spokane.