Parents usually know before everybody else. Gary Brown knew the first time he watched his 5-year-old son play basketball in a Houston YMCA. As proof of the moment, he carries a picture on his phone of Zach Brown driving to the basket in his white shirt and blue shorts.
He was taller than every kid in the gym, Gary Brown said. I have a picture of him when he first laid hands on basketball. When he took his first step, I said Man, this kid is special.
Wichita State is counting on that. Brown, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward, is one of four athletes who signed letters of intent with Wichita State on Wednesday, the first day of the fall signing period. Brown signed his letter during an assembly at Sunrise Christian Academy on Wednesday afternoon. Students filled the small gym and his family sat with him.
Its good to finally put it on paper and finally be a part of the Shockers, he said.
Brown, who orally committed to WSU in May, attended South Kent (Conn.) School early this fall before transferring to Sunrise, in Bel Aire. He spent last year at South Kent, after attending high school in Houston for his first three years. He plays for Sunrises post-graduate team, which is new this season.
He can do it all, WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. He can score. He can defend. He can handle the ball.
While Brown came to Sunrise late, he quickly integrated into the team. Coach Luke Barnwell has him playing some point guard, although that is not where his future rests.
I knew he was a great shooter, but there are days when he gets its rolling in practice and hes tough to guard when he gets rolling, Harwell said. Hes improved his (dribbling) because hes had to. His game has developed over the five or six weeks because he was almost forced to.
Rivals.com ranks Brown a three-star prospect. When he committed in May, his play with Texas Pro AAU attracted attention from schools such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Alabama and others, according to his father.
Other WSU signees Wednesday:
• Forward Rashard Kelly (6-foot-7, 210 pounds) plays at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He is a ball-getter, Marshall said. A rebounder deluxe. A hard-playing tough dude. Rivals.com ranks him a three-star prospect. He chose WSU over George Washington, Xavier, George Mason, Marshall and Towson State.
• Guard Corey Henderson Jr. (6-3, 165) is ranked a three-star prospect from Episcopal School of Dallas, where he plays for his father, Corey Henderson Sr. Hes got great genes, Marshall said. Hes a tall point guard, who could actually play off the guard, if necessary, because hes 6-3 and he can stroke it. Hes got a great feel and is a really good passer.
• Center Bush Wamukota (6-11, 230) is a sophomore at Kilgore (Texas) College and fills WSUs immediate need for 2014-15. The Shockers lose big men Chadrack Lufile and Kadeem Coleby. Marshall counts on Wamukota, from Kenya, contributing. High-level rebounder, Marshall said. Great motor. 3.8 (grade-point average) student. Very, very high ceiling. Wamukota also considered Saint Louis, Houston, Texas Tech and Utah State, but committed to WSU before visiting any other school.
WSU loses four seniors from this team (Coleby, Lufile, Cleanthony Early and Nick Wiggins) and will have another open scholarship because freshman D.J. Bowles is prohibited from playing due to a heart condition. Forward Eric Hamilton, a 6-7 senior at Duluth, Ga., is scheduled to visit this weekend and attend Saturdays game against Tennessee State.
Also at Sunrise Sunrise had a busy day with NCAA Division I signings.
Lourawls Tum Tum Nairn, a 5-10 senior point guard, signed with Michigan State. He is rated a four-star prosect and the No. 61 player in the country by Rivals.com. Forward Nathan Bain, a 6-6 senior, signed with Colorado State. Both are from the Bahamas and play on Sunrises high school team.
Center Rauno Nurger, a teammate of Browns on the post-grad team, signed with Mississippi. Nurger (6-10) is from Estonia.