Zach Bush plans to join the men’s basketball team at Wichita State as a walk-on this season. He is not sure how many years he will play for the Shockers.
Bush, a 6-foot-6 forward who graduated from Goddard Eisenhower in the spring, is trying to get released from the national letter of intent he signed with NCAA Division II Washburn. For now, Washburn is not cooperating. Without a release, Bush loses a season of eligibility.
“I’m hoping the whole process works itself out,” he said. “We asked for the release and they denied it.”
Bush chose between a scholarship to Washburn and walking on (and redshirting) at WSU when he signed with the Ichabods in April. In June, he began to reconsider and said homesickness played a small role.
“I got up there for a little bit, and it didn’t feel right,” he said. “It’s always been on my mind to play Division I basketball.”
Washburn, through its sports information department, declined comment. Athletic director Loren Ferre is with the men’s basketball team on an exhibition trip in Europe. According to a story in the Topeka Capital-Journal, Washburn’s policy is not to grant releases.
Bush averaged 22.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists for Eisenhower and was on The Eagle’s All-Class 5A team. Playing for the Shockers has long been a goal and his friendship with current player Ron Baker, from Scott City, helped his decision.
“Growing up around here, I always through it would be awesome to play there,” Bush said. “I can chase my dream and stay home at the same time.”
Shocker coaches are not allowed any contact with Bush until he attends class at WSU.
According to the national letter of intent rules, Bush could practice with WSU this season, but not play. Athletes who do not attend the school with which they sign must attend another school for a full academic year before competing. Bush is a likely redshirt candidate.
Bush can continue to ask for the release. He can also appeal to the National Letter of Intent Office, housed within the NCAA Eligibility Center.
His best pitch, according to Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies pitching coach Pat Rice, is his curveball. If it’s good at 6,000-foot elevation in Colorado Springs, Rice expects it to turn into a genuine knee-buckler on the prairie. He works with Beichler during the winter.
“It’s really difficult to throw a breaking ball at high altitude,” said Rice, who grew up in Colorado and pitched briefly in the major leagues. “If you find a guy who can throw a breaking ball in Colorado, it will get better at sea level. (Biechler) has one of the best breaking balls I’ve seen from a young kid for years.”
Biechler doesn’t understand all the science behind the difference, but he is certain his curveball behaves differently at lower elevation in heavier air. When he uses his normal motion away from Colorado, the pitch will break into the dirt. He needs to change his release point to produce a higher break and find the strike zone.
He compares learning to throw a breaking pitch in Colorado to a runner training at high altitude. Life gets easier on the flatlands.
“There is a big difference,” he said. “You tend to see a lot more movement on every pitch you throw.”