David Riley takes over as new EWU head coach

David Riley takes over as the new EWU Head Coach.

Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

David Riley takes over as the new EWU Head Coach.

By Randle Kinswa, Co-Managing Editor/Sports Editor

The unique 2020-2021 men’s basketball season ended with a successful Big Sky tournament run, and the program’s third appearance ever in the NCAA national tournament. 

But, just three days after EWU’s heartbreaking loss to blue-blood Kansas, former head coach Shantay Legans departed for the University of Portland.

Legans would also attract former EWU sophomore guards Michael Meadows and Tyler Robertson to follow him to Portland. The mass exodus of transfers only began, as senior guard Jacob Davidson, a member of the 1,000 point club at EWU also elected to transfer to his hometown, and play for Cal Poly next season. 

The Groves Brothers, who combined for over 50 points against the loss to Kansas, have both transferred to the University of Oklahoma, while junior forward Kim Aiken Jr. who had originally committed to Arizona University, has since opted out after a coaching change and is still in the transfer portal. 

EWU lost its head coach, and several key players in just a matter of a month. 

By the end of March, EWU would hire longtime assistant David Riley as the man at the wheel.

Riley has worked his way up from a simple graduate assistant at EWU 12 years ago, to becoming the head coach.

Riley said that recruiting has changed a lot in the last year and a half. 

“It’s very different,” Riley said. “A lot more film, video … and a lot of zoom talks … we want to make sure they fit personality wise.

Riley mentioned that many of the connections he has made in his 12 years of coaching all across the west coast has helped him build some recruiting infrastructure. 

With COVID-19 still being an obstacle for athletics into the summer and next season, Riley said the team will be focused on what they do every summer.

“Obviously we’re gonna hope for the best with the COVID situation,” Riley said. “But we will be flexible … but our goal every summer is skill development and building chemistry over the summer.” 

Riley said that in spite of everything that has happened, the men’s basketball program will keep the same blueprint, that has led to the program’s recent success.

“We have had success here,” Riley said. “We’re gonna keep the same blueprint … we’re gonna get guys who are successful both on and off the court … our blueprint and culture will stay the same.” 

Riley also mentioned that he is excited for players who will get opportunities over the summer and next fall, including some freshman and recent transfers. 

In fact, Riley just added four new players to the Eagles basketball team this last week. 

Eagles & New Head Coach David Riley Add Four Players – Eastern Washington University Athletics (goeags.com)