If this story sounds familiar, you know the story of Fred VanVleet’s commitment to Wichita State, which really meant a commitment.
Sunrise Christian Academy forward Zach Brown (6-foot-7) gave WSU a non-binding commitment in May. Soon after, he played in a tournament in California and schools such as Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Alabama and Kansas State wanted in the hunt. Coaches called. The family talked. His AAU coach wanted him understand his options. Gary Brown, his father, wanted his son to make a smart choice, even if that meant considering other schools.
Zach Brown never wavered. On Wednesday, he signed a letter of intent to play at WSU as a freshman next season. His family attended the signing ceremony at Sunrise Christian, where he plays on the post-graduate team, and his dad said he felt as if his son was born to be a Shocker.
“It was very clear for him, and once it was clear for him and he put it to rest, I felt very comfortable,” Gary Brown said. “He had some incredible looks down in California. Several other big, major schools were very interested and ready to offer him. Wichita State was the obvious choice for him. He never looked back or gave any other consideration because he feels so strongly about the program.”
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After he signed the letter binding him to WSU, Zach Brown made it clear that paperwork existed as a mere formality.
“It’s always been official,” he said. “It’s a blessing for me to have come so far.”
Shocker coaches started recruiting Brown before his junior season, when he played at Houston’s Klein Colllins. That loyalty made all the difference to the player.
“They kept that close relationship,” Gary Brown said. “Because that relationship was established early, it made it easy for him.”
Ask Greg Marshall about Zach Brown’s loyalty and he flashes back to VanVleet, a sophomore guard who stuck with WSU when tempted with other offers.
“It says a lot about the kid,” Marshall said. “The last guy to do that was Fred VanVleet. He was a high-level recruit, too,who ended up being top 100. And I think Zach may have been, as well, but he didn’t (play) AAU this summer. If you don’t go AAU the summer before your senior year, you’ve got not chance at being ranked.”
Brown will play on the wing in college and Marshall describes him as versatile player who can score in many ways and is a tough defender when locked in. He is playing some point guard at Sunrise, which is helping his dribbling. His development also took a fast-track last summer as a de facto member of the team. Brown practiced and lifted weights, allowable even before his signed because he had graduated from high school. The demands of a WSU practice will not surprise Brown.
“He’s done it,” Marshall said. “He’s already got an advantage walking in the door. Hopefully, he’s carrying that over to (Sunrise) and getting more accomplished.”
Big piece — In addition to Brown, WSU signed power forward Rashard Kelly and guard Corey Henderson Jr. Kilgore (Texas) College center Bush Wamukota was the final player to commit and the most likely to help the most in 2014-15.
Wamukota (6-11, 230 pounds) gives WSU the post player it needs with seniors Kadeem Coleby and Chadrack Lufile departing. Wamukota committed on Nov. 6 after considering waiting until the spring.
“You’ve got to have at least three guys that can guard the (post),” Marshall said. “We went really, really hard and we were able to close the deal in the fall. That was the icing on the cake for the fall recruiting.”
Kelly (6-7, 210) plays at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy and is regarded as an excellent rebounder. Henderson Jr. (6-3, 165) plays at Episcopal School of Dallas and can play both guard spots. Both are rated as three-star prospects by Rivals.com.
Local flavor — WSU’s volleyball team signed All-Metro Reagan Peare of Andover and Hanna Shelton of Valley Center.
Peare, a two-time All-Metro pick, played setter and hitter for Andover. She had 464 assists and 336 kills. Shelton, a libero, totaled 330 digs.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, setter McKenzie Fyfe of Grand Island (Neb.) will walk on at WSU.
• Buhler girls golfer Taryn Torgerson signed with WSU on Thursday, according to the Hutchinson Daily News. She won the Class 4A title in October.