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Wichita State WSU notes: Undeveloped center remains on Shocker radar

  • Published Saturday, August 31, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Wichita State and Henry Uwadiae are in a holding pattern with each other, and that is fine with both parties.

Uwadiae, a 6-foot-11 center, signed with WSU in November 2011 and largely disappeared from the recruiting radar. The NCAA didn’t clear him for eligibility, helping WSU with a scholarship crunch. Shocker coaches placed him at Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College for a redshirt season in 2012-13.

WSU is keeping tabs on Uwadiae, who will have three seasons of NCAA Division I eligibility. Its coaches, like those at many schools, want to see Uwadiae on the court. His play this season will determine what level of school pushes hard for his signature. He is looking at other schools and has scholarship offers from Marshall, UC Riverside, East Tennessee State and Seton Hall, according to his coach.

“A lot of coaches are waiting and seeing,” Kirkwood coach Bryan Petersen said. “(WSU) obviously really likes him, but they want to see him play in some games. They’ve never really seen him play. He’s pretty raw. That’s one of the reasons they put him at our place.”

Like former Shocker Ehimen Orukpe, Uwadiae is a late-comer to basketball. He grew up in Nigeria playing volleyball and adopted basketball at 14. Petersen said he has gained around 20 pounds, up to 235. Also like Orukpe, his offensive skills lag behind his defense. His basketball instincts are also behind many peers.

“The biggest progress he’s made is with his body,” Petersen said. “He’s very long. He’s athletic. He can run. He’s more of a defensive player — tough to score on around the rim.”

Consistency in environment and instruction may help Uwadiae progress. He will play for the same school for the first time since coming to the United States. Petersen is in his first season as head coach at Kirkwood after serving as an assistant to Doug Wagemester the previous season.

“He went to three different prep schools and then we got him,” Petersen said. “He’s made good strides with his effort and playing with a better motor.”

Shocker test — Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy forward Rashard Kelly will visit Wichita State the weekend of Sept. 21. Shocker coaches, it appears, can save the hard sell. Kelly is already measuring other schools against WSU and its Final Four.

“Rashard, he wants to go to a program where they’re going to win,” Hargrave coach A.W. Hamilton said. “That's why he has so much interest in Wichita State. Some of these other schools, he wants to make sure they can compete at the same level.”

Kelly (6-7, 210 pounds) doesn’t have other visits scheduled, although Hamilton expects that to change. He is being recruited by Butler, Cincinnati, George Washington, George Mason, Temple and others.

He played last year at Massanutten (Va.) Military Academy before transferring to Hargrave for a post-graduate year. Hamilton describes him as a combo forward who is one of the nation’s top rebounders.

“He's a super-tough kid,” Hamilton said. “He can guard a wing. He can guard a big. He’s a big-time athlete.”

WSU coaches started recruiting Kelly at Massanutten. He is originally from the Fredricksburg, Va., area and played his freshman year at Chancellor High and two at Bishop O’Connell, according to the Free Lance-Star newspaper of Fredricksburg.

“Coach (Greg) Heiar has done a tremendous job developing a relationship with Rashard,” Hamilton said. “Coach Heiar is a relentless recruiter. He's got an unbelievable way of connecting with young people.”

•  Prime Prep (Texas) Academy power forward Omar Sherman will visit on Sept. 13.

Scout.com ranks Sherman (6-8, 230) the No. 19 player at his position in the class of 2014. He raised his stock this summer, in part because his conditioning improved and allowed his scoring and passing abilities to shine.

“He’s a skilled kind of player,” said Brian Snow, Scout.com national recruiting analyst. “He’s not super athletic. He scores inside and out. He’s got refined post moves and has good touch out to the three-point line.”

He is also considering Miami (Fla.), Weber State, Georgia Tech and UCLA, according to Scout.com.

Scouting race — Wichita State’s cross country team is skipping a trip to Terre Haute, Ind., this fall.

The Pre-Nationals meet, held at the site of the NCAA Championships, has been a regular on the schedule in recent years. It features a large field (around 150 schools) of top teams eager to preview the course for the November race. Instead, the Shockers will travel to Peoria on Oct. 18 for the Bradley Invitational.

Coach Kirk Hunter wants to give his runners a look at Missouri Valley Conference competition ahead of the conference meet on Nov. 2 in Des Moines. Last fall, WSU didn’t race any MVC schools other than Missouri State until the conference meet. Most of the conference will run at Bradley’s meet.

“When we go to Bradley, that’s going to be almost like a pre-conference race,” Hunter said. “We’re going to really be able to test ourselves and when we go to conference we’ll have a better idea of who we’re racing and have a better understanding of what we need to do to beat them.”

An Oct. 5 trip to the Oregon Invitational will serve as WSU’s highest-profile meet.

Worth noting — WSU’s men’s and women’s tennis teams earned Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic awards for the 2012-13 school year. Men’s players Matheus Pereira and Alvaro Gutierrez and women’s players Montse Blasco Fernandez, Veronika Blaskova, Lucia Kovalova, Satjaporn Mahajaroenkul, Rebecca Pedrazzi, Julia Schiller and Summer Schlotterback received scholar-athlete honors. … WSU’s softball team will hold a camp for athletes in grades 8-12 on Oct. 6 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Cost is $100.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.

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