Cameron Payne visited Wichita State in August and Shocker coaches called on freshman guard Fred VanVleet to serve as tour guide.
Makes sense, because if Payne commits to WSU, he and VanVleet will need to mesh. Payne, a senior at Memphis’ Lausanne Collegiate School, is a combo guard who averaged 22 points and made 42 percent of his three-pointers as a junior.
“He spent a lot of time with Fred VanVleet,” Lausanne coach Kenneth White said. “Those two could form a formidable duo in the years to come.”
Payne (6-foot-1, 166 pounds) said he will make his decision early this week from a list that includes WSU, Ohio, Murray State, High Point and the College of Charleston. He said all five are equal. White, while not calling WSU a leader, likes its position.
“He loved everything about Wichita,” White said. “I think there’s a good chance he could possibly end up there.”
Payne wants to play quickly, play in the NCAA Tournament and find a good academic fit.
“I really like Coach (Gregg) Marshall,” he said. “He has a great reputation of winning games.”
Payne can play point guard or shooting guard. He was one of three finalists for Mr. Tennessee Basketball in Division 2-A last season. ESPN.com ranks him No. 37 among all point guards in the class of 2013 and No. 8 among all players in Tennessee.
“When he’s playing (point), he’s comfortable getting the ball to scorers in their spots,” White said. “One thing that was particularly appealing to him is Coach Marshall — he’s able to maximize the potential of his guards.”
Rusk, a junior transfer from Texas Tech, showed why in last week’s Shocker Classic. Playing as individual, he shot a 1-under-par 212 to finish in a five-way tie for 11th. WSU won the team title by 16 shots over Kansas State, with three Shockers finishing ahead of Rusk.
“Sometime this year, he’s going to play,” Jones said. “And he’s really going to help us next year. He hadn’t played, really competitively, for six, seven months. He’s just kind of getting back into it.”
Rusk, from Edmond, Okla., finished sixth in qualifying for WSU. He spent most of the summer working at his home course and played a few tournaments.
“I was glad to get out there and play some decent golf, and some not-so-great,” he said. “Confidence really hasn’t been there, so the main thing is to try and build on that and just keep getting better.”
Rusk departed Texas Tech under less-than-desirable circumstances and is happy to get a second chance at WSU. He also considered Oklahoma State and Oklahoma City. He said Jones called first.
“I got into a little bit of trouble that I shouldn’t have gotten into,” he said. “I got into the wrong crowd a little bit, and made some poor decisions, and had to deal with it this summer, looking at other schools.”
Church, and junior Elizabeth Field, recently received the plaques in the mail.
“I was like ‘Yes,’ ” Church said, laughing. “Then I looked down and I was like ‘Ohhh.’ I was happy that I got the award. It’s really nice. And a plaque is something I would want to keep and hang up. I wanted to represent my school, not a fictional school.”
Both athletes took the mistake with good humor. One of their teammates took a picture of Church’s award and sent it out on Twitter. Church’s mom suggested covering the incorrect spelling with the right one.
“Maybe I could Sharpie it on,” she said.