Elihu Cobb

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Historically, fewer than two percent of National Collegiate Athletic Association — NCAA — athletes play on professional sports teams for any period of time — in professional basketball, this drops to 1.2 percent. These numbers are specific to Division I athletics; Division II drops even lower. 

Western athletes going professional has happened twice before in the school’s recent history — football player Tyrell Williams was drafted to the San Diego Chargers in 2016, and basketball player Tanner Omlid signed to play professionally in the Spanish Leagues in 2018. Basketball player Elihu Cobb is now the third Western athlete to go professional.  

In 2021, Cobb came to Western from the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, an almost three-hour drive from where he went to high school. In Cobb’s sophomore season, he reached 10 double-doubles — where a player accumulates double digits in two of the five primary statistical categories — and averaged nearly a double-double every game during the season. 

At Western, he continued to dominate, completing 70 of 113 field goal attempts in his first and second seasons combined as well as maintaining a strong presence on the court. 

“He’s dedicated,” said Coach Wes Pifer. “He got stronger every single year on the court and off the court.” This is seen in Cobb’s stats: his points scored, free throws and blocks all increased in his second season at Western.

Cobb was described by his coach as “a warrior” and “an everyday guy,” concerning his work ethic and attitude as a player. Pifer and the rest of the coaching staff had stayed connected with Cobb during the recruiting process, something he accredited to why he had chosen Western. “We still maintain that relationship to this day,” Pifer said. 

On top of being an everyday guy, Cobb is extremely humble in his playing level and ability. Even though his improvement is reflected in his stats, he stated, “I didn’t have the career I feel like I’m capable of having.” Coach Pifer stated Cobb had finished fourth in the league in blocks and shots and called him “a presence on the court.” 

Cobb would consider his defining moment to be receiving an education and getting his bachelor’s degree in business, as well as his associate’s degree from the College of the Sequoias. “I got my business degree, so I got an education out of it and they have also given me the opportunity to continue playing at the pro level,” Cobb said.

When asked, Cobb did not see himself as much of a leader on the court, but he did feel as if he could be a guide for the freshmen players, “They can talk to me and ask questions. I help them with how to act professionally, and like what we can do, what not to do.” 

Coach Pifer, however, thinks highly of him as a leader.

“I think he’s a great guy when it comes to leading by example: how hard he plays, exhibiting the right traits,” Pifer said. “He’s one of those guys that leads by example all the time.”

For Cobb, evolving from Junior College to Division II changed him from a raw player with only a few years of organized basketball under his belt, to learning what he could bring to the court and how he impacted the team.

In his time at Western, Cobb had the opportunity to go to states he had not originally been to, like Alaska. “I had never seen that much snow around and there was ice everywhere,” Cobb said. “It was just an experience going to different places.”

He also described the exhibition games the team played during the 2022-2023 season — games against the University of Arizona and Corban University. “The crowd was packed, it was a fun experience,” Cobb said. 

He played in both of these matchups as a finisher, contributing three rebounds and a block during the game against Corban and similar stats during the Arizona game. While Western unfortunately lost in these matchups, it is clear that it was an experience that Cobb will remember when looking back on his college career.

Cobb will continue his basketball career with the Vancouver Volcanoes, a professional team playing in The Basketball League. The team was originally founded in 2005 and played in the International League before the league was disbanded in 2014. In 2020, The Basketball League announced that the Portland Storm was approved for franchise expansion for 2021 — which was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19. The team was then relocated to Vancouver for the 2022 season, and the Volcanoes joined the league. 

“I think I’m feeling really confident, it’s gonna be more space,” Cobb said when asked about his feelings towards going pro. “I think it’s gonna be different because it’s going to be more freedom on the court for me and I’m gonna be able to do things I couldn’t before.”

The Volcanoes opened their season on March 1 against the Emerald City Jaguars, winning 118 to 101. Their next game is against Great Falls Electric on Sunday, March 17.

Contact the author at howlsports@wou.edu