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Commentary Bob Lutz: Wichita State’s Kadeem Coleby sacrificed for success

  • Published Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at 7:51 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 6:22 p.m.

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Two seasons, no waiting

Wichita State’s top juco transfer scorers

F Cleanthony Early (2012-14), Sullivan County (N.Y.) — 69 games 1,015 points, 14.7 per game

2014 Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Finalist and Wooden Award mid-season top 25 … All-MVC 2013 … 2013 NCAA All-Tournament Team … 2013 MVC Newcomer of the Year

F Richard Morsden (1972-74), Hutchinson — 51 games, 802 points, 15.7 per game

All-MVC 1973 … 1972 second-team NJCAA All-American … Averaged 27.2 points as a sophomore at Hutchinson

G Clevin Hannah (2008-10), Chipola (Fla.) — 66 games, 766 points, 11.6 per game

2010 All-MVC … 2009 MVC All-Newcomer Team … Made 85 of 94 free throws (90.4 percent) in 2009-10, third on WSU’s season list

G Tony Martin (1980-82), Casper (Wyo.) — 62 games, 753 points, 12.1 per game

Ranks eighth on WSU’s career list with 336 assists … 184 assists in 1980-81 rank second on single-season list

G Randy Smithson (1979-81), Cowley — 61 games, 732 points, 12 per game

Ranks 10th on WSU’s career list with 319 assists … 163 assists in 1980-81 rank sixth on the single-season list

G Joe Ragland (2010-12), Western Nebraska — 69 games, 688 points, 10 per game

G L.D. Swanson (1993-95), Jacksonville (Texas) — 54 games, 678 points, 12.6 per game

G Robert George (1990-92), Southeastern (Iowa) — 56 games, 637 points, 11.4 per game

F Aaron Hogg (2002-04), Jacksonville (Texas) — 62 games, 630 points, 10.2 per game

G Leonard Kelley (1961-64), Labette — 54 games, 630 points, 11.7 per game

G C.C. McFall (2000-02), Southeastern (Iowa) — 58 games, 596 points, 10.3 per game

G Preston Carrington (1969-71), Butler County — 52 games, 587 points, 11.3 per game

F Ben Smith (2010-12), Northern Oklahoma — 70 games, 571 points, 8.2 per game

G Terry Hankton (1996-98), Butler — 58 games, 526 points, 9.1 per game

F Ramon Clemente (2007-09), Paris (Texas) Junior College — 64 games, 479 points, 7.5 per game

G Lillard Harris (1965-67), Labette — 52 games, 415 points, 8.0 per game

Missouri State at No. 2 Wichita State

PMissouri St.Ht.Yr.PtsReb
FJarmar Gulley6-5Sr.14.96.4
FKeith Pickens6-4Sr.6.95.3
CTyler McCullough6-11Fr.3.22.6
GDorrian Williams6-3So.5.5x-3.4
G Austin Ruder6-3Fr.8.81.8
Wichita St.
FCleanthony Early6-8Sr.15.75.9
FTekele Cotton6-3Jr.10.54.4
CKadeem Coleby6-9Sr.2.62.7
GRon Baker6-3So.13.13.7
G Fred VanVleet6-1So.12.3x-5.2

x-assists

Missouri State (19-10, 9-8): The Bears led WSU by 19 points with 11:48 remaining in the game on Jan. 11 before losing 72-69 in overtime. They made 8 of 14 three-pointers in the first half and 2 of 10 in the second. WSU held MSU to seven second-half baskets to outscore the Bears 48-27 in the final 25 minutes. Ruder scored 17 points, making 5 of 8 threes. G Marcus Marshall, who averages 14.3 points, scored 15 points. He tore the meniscus in his right knee late in the game and did not play again this season. Gulley has scored in double figures in 15 straight games. F Ron Mvouika played four minutes in the first meeting. Since Marshall’s injury ended his season, Mvouika started eight games and scored in double figures six times. He is 16 of 34 from three-point range in MVC games. The Bears are third in the MVC in three-point shooting (36.6 percent) and ninth defending the three (37.5). The Bears could finish as high as third or as low as sixth depending on the outcome of Saturday’s games. A win doesn’t guarantee them third, because they lose the head-to-head tie-breaker to Northern Iowa.

Wichita State (30-0, 17-0): WSU is the highest-ranked team to play the Bears in the regular season. MSU played No. 1 Duke in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. The Shockers are holding MVC opponents to 39.3 percent shooting and 30.9 percent from the three-point range. WSU is shooting 74.8 percent from the foul line in MVC games, with Early, Baker and VanVleet above 80 percent. The Shockers turned around the earlier meeting with a 16-2 run. They outscored the Bears 31-11 at the foul line, making 19 of 23 in the second half. Early led WSU with 22 points and VanVleet added 16. He scored 12 in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime. WSU has won six straight in the series and leads 33-30.

RPIs as of Friday: MSU 105, WSU 7.

Missouri St. at No. 2 Wichita St.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Koch Arena

Records: MSU 19-10, 9-8 MVC; WSU 30-0, 17-0

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

TV: ESPN

Kadeem Coleby started 20 games as a junior at Louisiana-Lafayette. He averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds and he was on the floor a lot. It was a good life in the Sun Belt Conference, but Coleby wanted more.

So he sacrificed. He decided to come to Wichita State, where he would have to sit out a season because of the NCAA’s transfer rules. He left something he knew for something he didn’t. And this time, he hit the jackpot.

Coleby watched from the sidelines last season as the Shockers made it all the way to the Final Four in Atlanta. And he’s been a part of this season’s 30-0 journey as part of WSU’s three-headed tree, the Avengers-like big man group he belongs to with Chadrack Lufile and Darius Carter. It’s all for one and one for all as Coleby, who grew up in the Bahamas, is the shot-blocking specialist.

Coleby loves to swat and his 35 blocks, which have come with only 12.7 minutes of playing time per game, have helped the Shocker senior leave a mark.

“He’s a man, he takes care of business,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said of the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Coleby. “He’s a wonderful student, already a graduate. He’s older, not just in age but in the way he handles himself. He’s solid. He’s always going to be where he’s supposed to be.”

Coleby is 24 years old. His basketball travels have taken him to many places, including two junior colleges and a prep school in Houston, Christian Life Academy.

He was a track and field athlete and volleyball player as a kid in Nassau, Bahamas.

“When I shot up about six inches I started playing basketball,” Coleby said. “Louisiana-Lafayette was my first Division I experience and it was OK. I started most of the games and put up some good numbers. But it’s not as good as winning 30 games. Not at all.”

Coleby will be one of the four seniors honored Saturday as Wichita State closes out the regular season with a 1 p.m. game at Koch Arena against Missouri State. He averages 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, numbers that pale in comparison to those he accumulated at Lafayette.

But in Wichita, Coleby is a rock star. He, like his teammates, can’t go anywhere without being recognized.

“You go for some breakfast and people recognize you,” Coleby said. “You go through a drive-thru and people are driving up and asking you, ‘Hey, how are you doing.’ I’m always wondering how they saw me.”

At 6-9, Coleby is hard to miss.

Darrell Sears, a mentor and coach to Coleby during his time in the Bahamas, said Coleby was always a tremendous athlete.

“Phenomenal,” Sears said. “But his skill set was so far behind when I had him at a camp when he was in high school. He had classic high-major talent but very low-major skills.”

So Coleby went to work, spending hours improving his footwork and touch.

“He had always relied so heavily on his athletic ability and didn’t spend as much time as he needed to working on his skill development,” Sears said. “I was so happy when he moved into Gregg Marshall’s system at Wichita State. I knew that would bring Kadeem so much more structure. If he had been able to go there from the start . . . I just can’t imagine.”

Coleby, though, has no regrets. He likes his role on this Wichita State team and understands that Carter and Lufile have earned their minutes. He doesn’t mind being a part of a trio that produces 16.5 points and 12 rebounds in just less than 48 combined minutes of playing time per game. They are also shooting a collective 52.3 percent from the field.

“I’m very happy here,” Coleby said. “Especially with this group of guys. I’m going to do anything for them. It’s just a group of fun-loving guys.”

Coleby hopes someday to return to the Bahamas and to live near the beach, away from the urban areas. A quiet, peaceful life that fits his personality.

“He’s mild-mannered,” Sears said. “But like any mild-mannered person, like a Clark Kent, they can become Superman. Be careful who’s around at that time, especially on the basketball court. Because the shark can come out real fast.”

Coleby looked like he might be headed for a career in rap music as a kid. He and a friend made some recordings and videos. He’s given that up and was reluctant to even talk about it, concerned about his Wichita State teammates knowing too much about his past.

“We would write our stuff,” he said. “My friend would write a verse and I would write a verse and we had a friend who would make the beats for us. We were like local celebrities in Nassau.”

It’s the same now in Wichita, where 30-0 is one heck of a rap.

Reach Bob Lutz at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @boblutz.

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