Isaiah Wilkins scored six points in a tournament championship game in November. After the game, he scored MVP honors because basketball isn’t just about offense.
Wilkins seems to understand that more than most athletes. In that championship game, he totaled seven blocks, 10 rebounds and eight assists, according to the Gwinnet Daily Post, in Greater Atlanta Christian’s win over Southwest DeKalb. Wilkins can score plenty, but he enjoys other parts of the game.
“He gets as much thrill from a steal or a blocked shot, or even a rebound, as most people get from scoring,” Greater Atlanta Christian coach Eddie Martin said. “We preach defense here.”
Wilkins, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward, recently cut his list of schools to five: SMU, Miami (Fla.), Virginia, Memphis and Wichita State. He describes the schools as even and wants to schedule a visit to WSU this fall. He said WSU started recruiting him before most schools and his relationship with coach Gregg Marshall goes back to last season, before the Shockers played in the Final Four. When he played this summer, a WSU coach watched.
“That meant a lot to me, showing that interest,” Wilkins said. “I like how they play, pressure defense. And the Final Four doesn’t hurt.”
Wilkins watched WSU’s game in the Final Four and can see himself fitting the Shocker style of play.
“I like to get things done at both ends of the floor,” he said.
Martin said there are two types of seniors — ones you go to graduation to make sure they are gone and others you cry over. Wilkins’ departure will be a sad day for him. He averaged 16.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists for Greater Atlanta Christian, which went 29-2 and won the Class AA title. He earned Class AA Player of the Year honors and a spot on USA Today’s All-USA Georgia team. Rivals.com ranks him No. 123 among seniors. He is the step-son of former NBA great Dominique Wilkins.
“He does all the little things coaches like to be around,” Martin said. “Great personality. Great character.”
Martin said Wilkins does most of his scoring with mid-range jump shots. He can make three-pointers, but it’s the part of his game that needs work. Martin needs him to score inside and get to the foul line. His speed allows him to be most inside players down court for easy baskets.
“Offensively, he can be a force, but he's such an unselfish player he passes up shots to get other people shots,” Martin said.
Stephen Hurt, a power forward at Northwest Florida State College, appears capable of contributing immediately. He plans to visit WSU on Sept. 13, according to coach Steve DeMeo. Hurt (6-10, 280) averaged 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds for Lipscomb (Tenn.) University, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. He earned conference Freshman of the Year honors, then transferred in the wake of a coaching change.
Hurt will also visit Miami (Fla.) and Kansas State, according to jucorecruiting.com. WSU’s pitch will include a special connection, as Shocker assistant Steve Forbes recruited Hurt to Northwest Florida last spring, before Marshall hired him to replace K.T. Turner. DeMeo replaced Forbes in mid-July.
“I think it’s a major factor,” DeMeo said. “I think Wichita State would be a great place for him to go. He could step in and be an impact player.”
In addition, former Shocker center Carl Hall came to WSU from Northwest Florida State.
DeMeo, who came to Northwest Florida from Hofstra, watched former Shocker center Garrett Stutz scored 24 points and grab 11 rebounds at Madison Square Garden in the 2011 NIT against Washington State. When he watches WSU, he sees a team that runs plays for its post men.
“He goes to his big guys on a regular basis and he develops them,” DeMeo said. “Not a lot of coaches go to their set pieces on a regular basis. I think their offense is designed for Stephen.”
Hurt proved as a freshman he can play against top competition. He scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Kentucky and contributed 15 and 13 at Memphis.
Clark, 31, was hitting .125 with Double-A Corpus Christi when the Astros called him up on Friday after injuries depleted their catching depth. Clark played the 2003 season at WSU after transferring from Arkansas. He hit .320 with eight home runs and earned second-team All-MVC honors.
Johnson waited through eight seasons and 205 minor-league games. He made 16 starts for the Kansas City T-Bones in 2011.
Johnson, drafted No. 40 by Boston in the 2006 draft, went 16-2 with a 2.94 ERA in three seasons at WSU. Elbow surgery early in his sophomore season shortened his career.