- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - New Washington State basketball coach Ernie Kent says the rebuilding project he faces in Pullman won’t be a long one.

“I am feeling confident that you have a winning basketball team sitting there,” Kent said, pointing to the players who attended his introductory news conference Wednesday.

Athletic director Bill Moos said Kent signed a five-year contract that will pay him a guaranteed $1.4 million a year and includes incentives. The contract includes a $2 million buyout, and there is also a pool of $650,000 to hire assistants.

Kent replaces the fired Ken Bone, who had led the Cougars during a period of mounting losses and dwindling crowds.

His last coaching job was at Oregon, where he was let go after the 2009-10 season.

Kent, who had been working as a television analyst when Washington State came calling, said the time away from coaching amounted to a much-needed sabbatical.

“My energy and my passion for the game of college basketball and life is relentless,” Kent said.

He described himself as a workaholic who already worked seven-day weeks in preparation for a return to the sidelines.

Moos, who had hired Kent to coach Oregon when Moos was athletic director there, said he offered the job to Kent last Sunday.

While there has been some grumbling among fans about Kent’s age, Moos noted that he is a decade younger than Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, who is coaching his team in the Final Four.

Kent said the facilities at Washington State were adequate for recruiting purposes and that he would be selling recruits on the Pac-12, the university and Pullman’s small-town charms.

“This is not a difficult sell,” Kent said. “This is a terrific environment to build a basketball team.”

Senior Royce Woolridge said Kent will be a perfect fit for the program. “Exactly what we need is somebody who can build some confidence,” Woolridge said.

Senior Davonte Lacy also was pleased with the hire, and echoed Kent’s confidence in the returning players.

“I don’t think we need to rebuild,” Lacy said. “We need to play to our potential.”

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