Most transfers are on a short timetable for success in NCAA Division I basketball. They have two seasons to produce and no time for a painful adjustment period.
Feel good for forward Tevin Glass, who signed with Wichita State on Friday. He’s got two of the nation’s best guides.
Glass, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Northwest Florida State College, joined an ideal situation, thanks to guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. They will make his transition smooth, because they run Shockers and they run things in a way that will give Glass opportunities with no pressure.
Baker and VanVleet are capable of scoring 20 points and taking over with their shooting. They are equally capable, and most important, willing to pass and let somebody else score 20. By the end of summer pickup games and workouts, VanVleet and Baker will know exactly how to use Glass’ talents.
Glass understands all that, especially after meeting them during his visit last week.
“Both of them — they really know how to lead a team,” he said. “It’s all about the team concept. I like that. They are very mature, and they work hard.”
WSU needed a forward who could help replace departing big men Cleanthony Early, Kadeem Coleby and Chadrack Lufile. Glass, who averaged 12 points and 5.8 rebounds as a sophomore, isn’t a three-point threat (Early) and isn’t a true post player (Coleby and Lufile), but he should fit with the Shockers. He rebounds, he runs the floor and can score from a variety of places.
“His assets are his length and extreme quickness,” said Mike Mitchell, owner of Midwest Scouting Service. “He's all over the offensive boards. He scores real well in transition because he runs real well.”
Northwest Florida coach Steve DeMeo considers Glass a scoring threat from out to around 17 feet. Glass would like to expand his range to the three-point line during his time as a Shocker to more fully duplicate the punch Early provided during his All-American career.
“I need to get a lot better on my three-point shot,” Glass said. “Blowing by people, that's a strong point of my game. I'm quick. I like Cleanthony Early and see a lot of his game in my game.”
The addition of Glass gives WSU what could be another solid rotation of bigs, although the group won’t be as experienced as in recent seasons. Senior-to-be Darius Carter, who averaged 7.9 points last season, is the only post or power forward with NCAA Division I experience. Redshirt freshman Shaq Morris will join transfer center Bush Wamukota, Glass and incoming freshman Rashard Kelly, a 6-foot-7 forward, as WSU’s primary interior defenders and rebounders.
Those five players will need to produce quickly to get the most out of Baker and VanVleet’s final two seasons at WSU. Fortunately, Baker and VanVleet are around to help.
While Billy Hall and Randy Young aren’t worried about their stolen-base records, Gillaspie enjoys adding a bit of the speed game to his resume. He stole bases in three straight games recently and coach Todd Butler is giving him the go signal often.
“It’s about 50-50,” he said. “Sometimes coach calls it out or gives me a sign. Sometimes he give me the green light and I can decide.”
When Gillaspie reaches first, most teams are relieved he isn’t passing by during his home-run trot. They’re so relieved, they neglect to keep him close and Gillaspie is smart enough to take advantage.
“They don’t think I’m a base threat,” he said. “I use that to my benefit and keep leading off and then take a bag if it’s open.”
Butler hesitated to run Gillaspie earlier in the season because he didn’t want to risk seeing his power hitter twist an ankle.
“Now we’re at the point where we just need to win,” Butler said. “He has a great feel. He picks the right time and he’s been successful so far.”
Basketball centers dream about making three-pointers. It’s not much different with 6-foot-4 first basemen who mash baseballs.
“I’ve always wanted to be fast,” Gillaspie said. “God didn’t bless me with speed. It’s fun stealing bags … one of the most enjoyable things to do, probably because I’ve never been able to do it.”
The selection show begins at 5 p.m. on the Golf Channel and fans are invited to watch with the team at the Champions Club at Koch Arena. Doors open at 4:30.
The Shockers won their first Missouri Valley Conference title last week, defeating runner-up Indiana State by one shot at Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield, Ill. NCAA play begins May 8.
The Shockers received seven of nine first-place votes and 79 points. Illinois State received two votes and 74 points. The tournament starts with 36 holes on Monday and finishes with 18 Tuesday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
WSU finished first or second in 17 straight tournaments and won 12 of the past 15.