It is a matter of efficiency. Wichita State basketball coaches often need to hop on an airplane to recruit. When a good player is available a few miles away, it's important to get his signature.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall accomplished that on Wednesday when Heights senior Evan Wessel signed a letter of intent.
"We've attempted to rein some of this local talent, and we think there's an abundance of talent," Marshall said. "It's starting to come of age. Evan can certainly be a link to other City League players, local players."
Wessel (6-foot-5) averaged 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior, earning All-City League and second-team All-Class 6A honors. He is the first scholarship Shocker from the City League since Craig Steven (1998-2003), who first joined the team as a walk-on from Bishop Carroll. Wessel is the first player to accept a scholarship out of high school from the City League since East's Juston White in 1998.
"Evan is a local kid who we've seen as much as anyone since we've been here," Marshall said. "Evan can play a lot of different positions. (He) is physically ready for a league such as the Missouri Valley Conference."
Talent in the City League seems to be peaking, with an outstanding class of 2012 on its way. Forward Perry Ellis, Wessel's teammate, is ranked No. 19 by Rivals.com among all juniors. East junior forward Nate Jackson, Southeast junior forward Gavin Thurman, East junior guard Jalen Love and North sophomore guard Conner Frankamp are among a group of potential Division I talents.
Marshall could be talking to any or all of them when he addresses recruiting WSU's turf. As an assistant at the College of Charleston, he watched one recruit from Eau Claire High in Columbia, S.C. lead to another — a player who turned out to be conference player of the year Thaddeus Delaney.
"It gives you an in, not just with (Heights), but with the whole City League," Marshall said. "Sometimes I think local players — anywhere, not just in Wichita — think 'It's nice here, but it's probably nicer somewhere else.' They almost take it for granted. Well, I'm here to tell you that I've been a ton of places and the grass is not always greener."
Wessel is busy now with football. Marshall is excited to see his progression when he concentrates on one sport.
"When football is over, he's going to get in the gym and refine his basketball," Marshall said. "He's a multi-sport guy. He's torn in so many different ways, because he's so good in football."
WSU also signed forward Jake White (6-8) from Chaska (Minn.), guard Tekele (Ta-KALE) Cotton (6-2) from Whitefield Academy (Ga.) and forward Carl Hall, (6-8) from Northwest Florida State College. White averaged 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds as a junior. Cotton averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Hall averaged 18.6 points and 11.3 rebounds as a freshnab at Middle Georgia College.
Fall finery — Wichita State won four of the past five MVC women's tennis titles. Nothing that happened this fall indicates a drop-off coming next spring.
Coach Colin Foster wrapped up the fall schedule in late October and then spent time recruiting in Turkey and Spain. WSU won the top three singles spots in the MVC individual championships, all while Luftiana Budiharto, its top player, competed in the ITA All-American Championships.
"We showed at the MVC (championship) we're the strongest team in the conference, but we're going to be challenged," Foster said.
Freshman Raphaela Zotter won the No. 1 singles flight, with junior Delia Damaschin winning No. 2 and freshman Veronika Blaskova taking No. 3.
Zotter fell behind a set before rallying to win the MVC title.
"She showed a lot of composure for a freshman," Foster said.
Foster expects Budiharto to start the spring season ranked in the 70s in the ITA's singles rankings. She advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Regionals to end her fall. She finished 2010 ranked No. 54.
Give me another chance — Garrett Stutz made 6 of 8 free throws in Wednesday's 80-62 exhibition win over Newman.
Nobody will remember the six made free throws in a meaningless game. Stutz couldn't forget the two misses, both after coach Gregg Marshall selected him to shoot after a technical foul on Newman coach Mark Potter in the second half.
"That one kind of ruined the night," Stutz said. "It took me two years to get coach to trust me to shoot those, and two shots ruined it all."
Worth noting — Emporia High senior volleyball player Lauren Longbine will sign with WSU on Monday.... WSU's baseball recruiting class is almost complete with the addition of outfielder Mikel Mucha from Colorado's Cherokee Trail High. Mucha is the 10th player to either commit or sign with the Shockers. Eastern Oklahoma State College third baseman Jordan Mings is considering WSU, Tennessee and Oklahoma State. He is expected to sign this week, according to coach Aric Thomas.... Bradley basketball will be without junior forward Taylor Brown this season. Bradley is holding him out for precautionary health reasons so he can undergo additional cardiac tests after a three-month rest. He averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds last season.