His jersey isn’t retired in the Koch Arena rafters, but Paul Wight is still a Wichita State player Shocker fans won’t forget.
Now a star for World Wrestling Entertainment known by his stage name “Big Show,” Wight played for Wichita State during the 1991-92 season.
Interviewed Monday by the “Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C., Wight told the hosts he was pulling for the Shockers.
“I'm happy for the program, I'm happy for Wichita itself. It's just a great thing. I know how much it means for that university,” Wight said.
Like many national observers, Wight was surprised at the run WSU has made to the Final Four.
“I don't want to say anything because I don't want to jinx them. So I'm just keeping my mouth shut. You know it's one of those kinds of things you turn your hat around backwards. You walk three steps to the door, you back up three steps, you turn the doorknob three times, anything you can to help give these guys good luck,” he said.
Listed at 7 feet tall and 441 pounds on his WWE bio, Wight came to WSU from Northern Oklahoma College after being recruited by then coach Mike Cohen.
He didn’t play much for the Shockers with his highlight game coming against Creighton in Omaha. Wight scored eight points and had seven rebounds in WSU’s 64-62 win, the only road win for the Shockers in an otherwise forgettable 8-20 season.
“Everything in this life has a way of working out the way it's supposed to. I learned a lot of life lessons at Wichita State when I was there,” Wight said.
“Coach got fired, lost my grandfather, lost my father to cancer, all in the same year. So it was a real hard year for me mentally. My dad was living with me in Kansas, going to the VA, going through cancer treatment and all those things, so it was a year to grow up.”
Wight, who lives in Miami, Fla., didn’t get back into watching college basketball until this season when the University of Miami won the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“(Miami) was in the Sweet 16 and so was Wichita State and I'm like, 'Let me get this right, I'm not into basketball for years and then the two teams I like the most may end up facing each other?' ”
Of course the Hurricanes are out and the Shockers are still playing, so the man Sports Illustrated’s “Extra Mustard” labeled the “Coolest Person” to ever attend WSU is back to solely being a WSU fan.