Wichita State’s men’s basketball recruiting class features the game’s precious commodity — a freshman big man.
A team needs good guards, but the pool of 6-foot-1 humans is large. The pool of legitimate power players is small. Getting four years to work with one is a bonus, as WSU fans saw with improvements made by Garrett Stutz in his career.
Other than Stutz, WSU hasn’t reeled in a high school post player of consequence in recent seasons (although Ehimen Orukpe almost counts with three seasons in the program after junior college). Coach Gregg Marshall hopes he rectified that situation with his fall class. Shaq Morris (6-foot-8, 262 pounds) of Edmond (Okla.) Memorial is a skilled scorer with a big body.
“He’s really a unique combination of athleticism, explosiveness off the floor and strength and size,” Marshall said. “He’s got a soft touch and certainly can shoot the ball facing (the basket).”
Morris admits he had a reputation for not working hard before his senior season. He transferred from Edmond Santa Fe, where he averaged 13.6 points and eight rebounds as a junior, to Memorial. Marshall watched him practice and decided that rap no longer fit Morris. OKHoops.com ranks him the No. 5 senior in Oklahoma. Rivals.com rates him a two-star prospect on a five-star scale.
“Now he’s in a program that is demanding that he give a certain level of work ethic and commitment and he’s certainly met all those expectations,” Marshall said.
Size should not be an issue for the Shockers next season. In addition to Morris, post player Earl Watson (6-7, 240) of Chipola (Fla.) College signed. WSU will join those two with junior Chadrack Lufile and senior Kadeem Coleby, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Louisiana-Lafayette, both of whom are 6-9.
Watson will be a junior next season and have two seasons of eligibility at WSU. He does his scoring near the basket. Watson, from Fort Pierce, Fla., averages 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in four games for No. 5 Chipola.
“He’s big, strong, athletic,” Marshall said. “He’s working on some faceup game. He is very, very strong and very good around the basket.”
Guards Rian Holland and D.J. Bowles also signed with WSU.
Holland, from South View (N.C.), is a shooting guard who can also play the point. He averaged 20.5 points as a junior. Coaches are also impressed with his willingness to hustle and play physically.
“He can score from anywhere,” Marshall said. “He’s got a game and a competitive streak that belies his size.”
Holland (6-0, 150 pounds) is working on his size, Marshall said, with a personal trainer.
“He’s small,” Marshall said. “He’s gotten taller and bigger since he committed. That’s something he’s got to do. But wait until you see his game. He’s got some game.”
Bowles, from Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian, is a point guard who reminds Marshall of freshman Fred VanVleet. Bowles (6-2, 170) averaged 17.9 points and 3.1 assists as a junior at Cleveland (Tenn.) High before transferring to Oldsmar. Rivals.com ranks him a three-star prospect.
“He runs the show and uses ball screens like Fred,” Marshall said. “He’s got a lot of Fred VanVleet in him, but maybe bigger. I like playing those guys together, and Rian could possibly be a point guard in the future.”
WSU women add seven — Guard Jamillah Bonner of Southeast and Butler Community College headlines a seven-person class for women’s coach Jody Adams.
“She is a program-changer in how she plays and the tempo at which she plays,” Adams said in a news release. “She has phenomenal speed and leaping ability. In our system, she could be the most decorated junior college player to leave Wichita State in two years.”
Bonner (5-8) averaged 16.6 points and 7.9 rebounds as a freshman at Butler.
Guard Jaleesa Chapel (5-10) averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for Dekaney High in Spring Texas, which went 40-2 last season. Forward Moriah Dapprich (6-0), sister of WSU freshman Michaela, was an all-conference pick for Branson (Mo.) High. Forward Briana Jones (6-0) averaged 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds for James Madison High in San Antonio. Center Morgan Landers (6-2) averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds for Burleson (Texas) High. Guard Marissa Preston (5-8) averaged 17 points and five assists for Staley High in Kansas City, Mo. Guard Kayla White (5-9) averaged 13 points and eight assists for East Central High in San Antonio.