Wichita State added a much-needed post player to its recruiting haul on Wednesday morning when Bush Wamukota orally committed.
Wamukota, a 7-foot, 230-pound center from Kilgore (Texas) College, called coach Gregg Marshall with his commitment. He is the fourth player to give WSU a non-binding commitment and the first post player, a position where the Shockers lose two seniors after this season.
WSU checked all the boxes for Wamukota, who also considered Saint Louis, Houston, Utah State and Texas Tech. After visiting last week, he ended the quest. The university’s experience with international students and the basketball program’s African connections (former center Ehimen Orukpe and director of operations Dominic Okon are from Nigeria) made the decision easier.
“I was looking for a great program with a great history,” Wamukota said. “It's a great system. Their style of play is a great fit for me. They feed the ball to the post most of the time on offense.”
Wamukota is a sophomore at Kilgore and will have two seasons of eligibility at WSU.
“Bush felt really comfortable with the coaching staff and the effort that they had made,” Kilgore coach Brian Hoberecht said. “Bush felt like, as far as the basketball program, the opportunity to play and be a part of a winning tradition and have the support made it a perfect fit for him.”
Wamukota came to the United State in the summer of 2012 and played last season at NAIA Wiley (Texas) College, where his mother is volleyball coach. He averaged 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 21 games. Those numbers, his coaches say, are misleading. He came to Wiley from Kenya as an unknown with uncertain eligibility. Once eligible, he played behind two seniors in a pressing game that didn’t play to his strengths.
“Our system wasn’t designed for him,” Wiley coach Andre Payne said. “We’re trapping and running all over the court. I hadn’t seen him play. We didn’t know how good he was.”
He transferred to Kilgore in hopes of landing an NCAA Division I scholarship. Friends and coaches told him to take the chance.
“I didn't know there was different levels of basketball,” Wamukota said. “When I got here, I got to realize there were higher levels.”
Payne, who planned to feature Wamukota as his primary scorer this season, sent him on his way with no hard feelings.
“I wanted him to stay, but I told him ‘I can’t lie to you,’” Payne said. “‘You’ve got what it takes to play major college basketball.’ He’s the type of the kid you want around your program. He’s going to class. He’s not going to get into any trouble.”
Hoberecht said 44 NCAA Division I coaches watched his team play during a 35-day stretch this fall, speeding up the recruiting buzz on Wamukota. WSU coaches watched him at jamboree this fall and made Kilgore a regular stop.
“I knew pretty quick once he got to Kilgore and got settled in that he would be a high-level recruit,” Hoberecht said. “I thought it might take an entire year for people to get to know him and get to evaluate him.”
Wamukota’s defensive skills and his rebounding abilities are strong. Hoberecht said his offensive skills are solid and improving as he adjusts to playing with and against better competition.
“He's got a nice jump-hook to both the left and right shoulder,” Hoberecht said. “He knows how to establish position. He’s got good hands, soft touch. The skill will catch up with the speed of the game. He is still thinking sometimes offensively.”
Hoberecht said Wamukota carries a 3.8 grade-point average. Wamukota said he is considering majoring in international business or sport management.
“Great kid,” Hoberecht said. “He is very appreciative of the opportunities that he has.”
WSU holds non-binding commitments from Episcopal School of Dallas guard Corey Henderson Jr., Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy forward Rashard Kelly and Sunrise Christian Academy forward Zach Brown. Recruits can sign beginning Nov. 13. WSU coaches cannot comment on recruits until they sign.