Basketball recruiting never stops in ordinary times, which means Wichita State’s rush to the November signing period is something even more frenetic.
There are six senior Shockers to replace after 2018, plus the possibility that the roster takes a hit from the NBA Draft.
July featured three four-day evaluation periods which sent coaches coast to coast to watch all-day tournaments, out of which sprouts a flurry of scholarship offers. Shocker coaches watched junior college athletes at the Mullen’s Top 100 in Wichita and high school stars in Lawrence at the Hardwood Classic. They fanned out to places such as Las Vegas (Gregg Marshall missesd the LaVar Ball show by one day), Atlanta and Philadelphia.
“It was exhausting,” Marshall said. “There’s a lot of talented guys out there and we’re trying to bird-dog as many as we can.”
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The most prominent scribbles on the white board in Marshall’s office outline the depth chart for this season and beyond. For a 2018-19 newcomer class, he is targeting a full team. The Shockers, most prominently, lose four senior front-court players, along with guard Conner Frankamp and wing Zach Brown. Forward Markis McDuffie tested the NBA Draft last spring and guard Landry Shamet’s name quite reasonably appears on NBA Draft lists.
Summer is largely about high school athletes. The time to target jucos, transfers and prep school athletes is often in the spring when needs become clear. Marshall did say the Shockers need at least one experienced big man, who could come from any of those sources. The departure of seniors Shaq Morris, Darral Willis, Rauno Nurger and Rashard Kelly demands a physically and mentally mature replacement part.
“We basically need one of everything, and then probably a special player,” Marshall said.
The Shockers are off to a strong start with non-binding commitments from guard Erik Stevenson, from Timberline High in Lacey, Wash., and Omaha center Isaiah Poor Bear Chandler, who will spend this season at Sunrise Christian Academy. They are scheduled to take two scholarships in 2018-19. Cordova (Tenn.) High forward Rodgerick Brown plans to graduate this summer and join the Shockers for 2017-18 as a freshman. He is open to redshirting.
As August proceeds, athletes are narrowing lists (although the newly popular top 11 list hardly seems like a narrowing) and scheduling visits. Among the candidates are:
▪ Whitney Young (Ill.) High point guard Xavier Castaneda will visit Wichita State on Sept. 6, according to Rivals.com. He will also visit Kent State and South Florida.
▪ According to his Twitter feed, point guard Neftali Alvarez of Miami Christian scheduled his first official visit to Wichita State. 247sports.com ranks Alvarez as the No. 56 point in the class of 2018.
▪ Cordova point guard Tyler Harris played well during the summer and appears to be the focus of a recruiting battle with Iowa State, Memphis, Mississippi and Wichita State, among others, involved. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla singled Harris out for his play at the Stephen Curry Select Camp earlier this month.
Harris is a high school and summer teammate of Brown’s, who has said he is recruiting his friend for the Shockers.
Wichita State is among several schools hitting Memphis hard. Memphis East point guard Alex Lomax told the Memphis Commercial Appeal he is considering schools such as Memphis, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri and Wichita State.
The backdrop to the pursuit of all Memphis basketball stars is local pressure on Tigers coach Tubby Smith to keep talent at home, pressure that increased with the transfer of the Lawson brothers (both from Memphis) last spring.
▪ Riverside (La.) Academy point guard Jared Butler, ranked No. 94 in the class of 2018, recently listed WSU, Texas, Alabama, Baylor, Virginia and Southern Cal on Twitter as his options.
▪ Shooting guard Diante Wood of Sacred Heart (Ala.) told Rivals.com that he is considering a visit to WSU.
▪ Denver East guard Daylen Kountz, a long-time Shocker recruit, announced on Twitter he will commit on Sept. 16.
▪ Center Dimon Carrigan, of Woodstock (Conn.) Academy lists WSU in his top eight, along with Connecticut, Houston, Syracuse, Texas, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
Carrigan has not scheduled visits. Leo Papile, coach of the Boston Amateur Basketball Club, said Carrigan will strongly consider visiting WSU.
“He’s well aware of the Wichita interest,” Papile said. “They’re visible at all his games. He seems to really like (WSU). They got in on him early.”
▪ Power forward Darius Days, of The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., includes WSU on his list of 11 schools on Twitter. Days, ranked No. 69 nationally by Rivals.com, also includes Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, LSU and others.
▪ Center Morris Udeze, from Texas, will move to Florida’s Montverde Academy. He lists WSU among his Twitter top 10, along with LSU, Ohio State, Iowa State, Butler and others.
▪ Findlay (Nev.) Prep forward Reggie Chaney told d1vision.com that Wichita State is among a group of six schools most interested in his talents.
“The coaching staff talks to me every day,” he told Jacob Polacheck.
Roster update — Marshall said he expects guard Samajae Haynes-Jones to enroll at WSU this week. Haynes-Jones, a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, finished his classwork this summer to become eligible and did not participate in workouts with the Shockers.
“That’s the plan,” Marshall said. “He, hopefully, will enroll on (Aug. 16.).”
With Shamet sidelined, Haynes-Jones will get plenty of repetitions at point guard once individual workouts and practices begin, Marshall said.
“That will be good for him,” Marshall said. “We’ll try to teach him the one (point guard) and the two (shooting guard).”
▪ Marshall is on board with Shamet’s timetable for a return in early November. Shamet underwent surgery in late July to repair a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Shamet said he expects a recovery time of 12-16 weeks.
“I’m just going by what I’ve been told — yes,” Marshall said. “As early as 12 and as late as 16.”
Wichita State’s first regular-season game is Nov. 10 against UMKC, followed three days later by College of Charleston. The Shockers open play in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 20 against California.
▪ Marshall expects sophomore guard Austin Reaves cleared for five-on-five scrimmages in September, perhaps earlier. Reaves had surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder in early April.
Reaves spent the summer conditioning and doing light workouts.
“Doing all non-contact stuff,” Marshall said. “We know he’ll be back in plenty of time (for October practices), if everything is normal.”
Worth noting — Former Wichita State men’s basketball assistant coach Greg Heiar signed a two-year contract worth $300,000 a year at LSU, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. Heiar, who coached at WSU for six seasons, made $248,000 in his final season with the Shockers, according to WSU’s athletic department. … Tickets for the Maui Invitational go on sale at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Fans can purchase an all-tournament pass or for Wichita State sessions. To purchase tickets, go to mauiinvitational.com/tickets or by phone at 1-800-325-7328. … The American Athletic Conference volleyball poll comes out Monday.