For Earl Watson, Wichita State is worth a two-year wait.
Watson, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound post player, orally committed to WSU in September 2011 as a freshman at Chipola (Fla.) College, before current Shockers Cleanthony Early and Derail Green. Watson, now a sophomore, will sign with the Shockers on Wednesday and make it official after a long wait.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Watson said. “It’s been awhile since I committed. The coaches stayed in contact. They always stuck with me, so I always stuck with them.”
WSU coaches are sure Watson will be worth the wait. One look at a highlight video on SouthernHoopsReport.com from August reveals his skills. He blocks shots. He dunks. He dunks some more.
“I like to dunk on people,” Watson said. “That’s probably my favorite part.”
Watson averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in No. 4 Chipola’s first two games, both big wins. Coach Patrick Blake said Watson is working to expand his offensive skills. He is trying to develop a reliable 15-foot jump shot and a jump hook. He rebounds aggressively on the offensive end, Blake said.
“Earl is a 6-foot-7 freak athlete,” Blake said. “He does a great job of dominating the low block. When his defense and rebounding matches his offensive rebounding, he will take his game to the next level.”
Watson is from Fort Pierce, Fla. He attended Queen City Prep Academy in Charlotte, N.C., for one year after attending Fort Pierce Central High. As a freshman at Chipola, he averaged 6.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while making 57 percent of his shots. Those numbers can go up if Watson improves his endurance.
“I’m trying to get in better shape so I can run up and down the floor and play more minutes,” he said.
Blake said Watson is a good student who is on track to graduate from junior college and earn eligibility at WSU.
“They’ve built a great relationship with Earl,” Blake said. “It’s been Wichita State from Day 1, never a doubt.”
Watson is one of four players expected to sign with WSU later this week, joining Edmond (Okla.) Memorial center Shaq Morris, South View (N.C.) guard Rian Holland and Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian guard D.J. Bowles.
Flip the senior — WSU volleyball coach Chris Lamb needed to do something to help Emily Adney. Her senior season veered off track over the past three weeks.
So Lamb switched his kills leader from the left to the right in Friday’s 3-1 win over Missouri State at Koch Arena. The move may or may not stick. For one night, it appeared to help.
“We were just hoping it would give Adney different looks, different swings,” Lamb said. “Everybody’s kind of sitting on Emily, and Emily’s getting tired. We talked in the spring how this would be an exhausting season for Emily, and it’s gotten there.”
Adney, a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference pick, carried the WSU offense for much of the season. Her 319 killls lead the team by more than 100 and her 1,035 attemps is almost double the amount taken by any teammate. She is also one of WSU’s best passers and her 231 digs rank third. All of that activity takes a toll and Lamb is trying to rest her when he can in practice.
Since mid-October, Adney’s production slipped. She had three kills and a negative-.038 attack percentage in a loss to Northern Iowa. Illinois State held her to eight kills and a negative-.019 attack percentage.
On Friday, Adney recorded 11 kills on a team-high 39 swings for a .205 attack percentage.
“It’s better than what’s been happening,” Lamb said. “We thought we would give that a try and we could be back to doing other things next week.”
The improvement of freshmen Katie Reilly and MaryAshton Floyd on the left helped Lamb make the move. Reilly hit .458 with 11 kills on Friday, in addition to six digs and two solo blocks.
Sam Sanders’ shoulder injury also played into the decision. Sanders, a junior right-side, has missed three matches with nerve pain that makes it difficult for her to swing. Before the injury, Sanders was on a roll, recording 12 kills against UNI and 13 against Bradley with attack percentages over .400.
“The good news is that she’s been cleared,” Lamb said. “They’re letting her move the arm around and take some swings. But Sam at 80 percent isn’t better than what we have. So Sam’s got to come back and be Sam.”
WSU is off until Friday when MVC-leading Creighton visits Koch Arena to start the final weekend of the regular season.