Ann LaRose is on the hunt for a pair of 1960s Converse Chuck Taylor hightop sneakers. She is told Dave Leach kept his from the 1965 Final Four.
The Shockers wore Chucks that season — everybody did in those days — and LaRose wants to see and feel the real thing for her work memorializing star player Dave Stallworth in bronze.
She would love to find a uniform from that season to help her create a life-size sculpture of Stallworth, the former Wichita State All-American basketball player. For LaRose, research into the subject’s look and personality is important. She can do a lot with a picture, but holding the uniform, seeing how it hangs on a model and touching the white canvas Chuck Taylors adds to the accuracy of the depiction.
“Absolutely it’s an important detail,” LaRose said. “I can work from photographs, becasuse it’s pretty obvious. But if you can have the actual uniform and measure it and really know … even how cloth drapes has a lot to do with how something looks. You can’t see that, really, in a photo.”
Members of the 1965 team are fund-raising for the project with a goal of around $200,000. When the former Shockers started planning, Leach suggested LaRose as the sculptor. The statue will be modeled on a picture of Stallworth shooting a jump shot.
“I’ve known (Leach) and his wife for 30-some-odd years,” she said. “When they started looking for a sculptor, Dave said ‘Hey, I think I know somebody.’”
LaRose, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., specializes in life-size bronze works. Her subjects range from military remembrances to children bird-watching from a bench. In March, she unveiled a statue of Tucson’s Chris Moon, a former baseball player and soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2010.
LaRose visited Wichita last week and met Stallworth’s widow, Gloria, and others who knew him. When charged with depicting a person’s life in bronze, LaRose wants to know about the subject’s life and connection to the community.
“I think it’s great, because I think Dave deserves it,” Gloria Stallworth said. “He was really a good man and he was for WSU all the way.”
Stallworth is revered by his teammates for more than his points, assists and rebounds. His leadership, unselfishness and upbeat personality strengthened that team. He returned to Wichita after his NBA career and made it his home while working for Boeing, where he met Gloria.
“To see how much people who have known him, since the time when he played for Wichita State, they’ve all stayed together and how important this time in their lives has remained and how much a part he was of their lives,” LaRose said. “I hope to bring some of that into this to let people in the future know more about him.”
LaRose looked at family photos of Stallworth and wants to get a sense for his body language, his clothing and his facial expressions.
“So much of a likeness is more than measurements,” she said. “The personality has to come through.”
Plans call for the statue to stand around 6 feet, 7 inches. It will be made of bronze, hollow, and likely weigh around 500 pounds. She will produce a model, around 30 inches tall, as a detailed draft. After the model is approved, her work shifts to Loveland, Colo., where she will finish the statue and cast it at a foundry. The entire process, she said, takes around a year and will depend partially on the schedule at the foundry.
Location, location — Bob Powers, a member for the 1965 team and one of the organizers of the project, said he expects the location of the statue finalized later this month.
Koch Arena, Powers said, is now a possibility. Earlier plans placed the statue at Intrust Bank Arena. A meeting is scheduled with university president John Bardo to finalize the financial details and the location.
“Koch Arena or Intrust Bank Arena — that will be decided in the next couple of weeks,” Powers said.
Coming to Wichita — Athletes in the class of 2018 are narrowing their lists of schools and making visits throughout the summer.
Erik Stevenson, a 6-foot-4 guard at Timberline High in Lacey, Wash., will visit WSU June 15-17, he announced on Twitter. Stevenson is considering numerous schools, including LSU, Virginia, Utah and Colorado.
Memphis Ridgeway’s Tyler Harris, also in the class of 2018, told 247Sports that he is considering visits to WSU, Mississippi, Iowa State and Kansas.
“Right now, Wichita State is standing out and Iowa State,” Harris told Jerry Meyer of 247Sports. “Wichita State has a great atmosphere. They love Wichita State basketball.”
Harris, a 5-10 guard, is ranked No. 83 nationally by Rivals.com.
Dennis on the move — Shane Dennis wants to remain one of the prominent voices describing Shocker athletics. His future as the color man on baseball broadcasts is an unknown after he was laid off as an account executive at Shocker Sports Properties.
Shocker Sports Properties is part of CBS Collegiate Sports Properties and a separate entity from the athletic department. Since 2013, it has overseen the athletic department’s television, radio and other multimedia contracts and sales.
“Shane is a valuable member of our broadcast team and we want his continued involvement as much as his schedule will allow,” WSU athletic director Darron Boatright said in an email. “We are fortunate to have him.”
Dennis, who started doing WSU baseball in 2011, wants to stay in Wichita and stay in broadcasting. He also did men’s basketball games play by play on TV for the Cox Kansas 14-game package.
To continue broadcasting Shocker games, he needs employment that works around games and travel.
“I would like to find a job that’s flexible enough to continue to do what I’ve been doing,” he said. “That’s the next challenge. I’m trying everything in my power to allow that to continue to happen.”