Shon Plack calls Olathe Northwest’s Brady Slavens a sticky prospect at shortstop, a compliment to his speed and defensive range.
“A lot of Kansas shortstops will move to third or the outfield,” said Plack, state director for the Kansas Prep Baseball Report. “A lot of (college coaches) will go out of state to get a shortstop. He has the ability to stick.”
Slavens is a junior at Olathe Northwest and one of several in-state athletes with a non-binding commitment to Wichita State. His athletic ability, Plack said, makes him a rare Kansas prospect in the middle infield and puts him on the leading edge of what appears to be a strong group of commitments for the Shockers from the class of 2019.
All the usual warnings apply for the class of 2019 — a lot can change between now and November 2018 (when they can sign with WSU) and February 2020 (when they will play as a Shocker). Commitments aren’t binding for either the athlete or the school.
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Regardless, these early commitments are the way of college baseball. Wichita State’s reputation and facilities remain good selling points with recruits, even with an absence from the national scene since its 2008 NCAA super-regional appearance and three consecutive losing seasons.
Wichita State, Plack said, owns commitments from four of the top five Kansas athletes in the class of 2019. Slavens, who bats left-handed, and Mill Valley outfielder/pitcher Quinton Hall lead the list. Plack also rates Campus catcher Mateo Martinez and Goddard shortstop Isaiah Cohens in the top five of the state (along with Kansas State commit Zac Cox of Manhattan).
“I always wanted to go there,” Hall said. “I loved how the coaches were honest about everything. They got my trust and I felt really comfortable.”
Plack coached Hall, who also considered Kansas State and Tennessee, this summer and watched him break out in the USA Baseball National Team Championships in June in Florida. Hall, Plack said, went 11 for 15 in six games. In an exposure camp at Eck Stadium, he tripled twice in three at-bats.
“He hit some premier pitching and really set himself apart,” Plack said.
Martinez committed as a freshman and said he didn’t need to look around. While a broken hand limited Martinez this summer, Plack calls him a catcher with a strong arm and power to the gaps.
“Other schools wanted to talk to me, but I wanted to be at Wichita State,” Martinez said.
Ark City pitcher Garrett VanDeventer also, according to his Twitter account, gave WSU a non-binding commitment.
On the list — Gainesville (Ga.) forward K.J. Buffen considers himself an X-factor on the basketball court.
“I can guard every position and I’m versatile on offense,” he said.
Buffen (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) said he has a scholarship offer from Wichita State and is considering scheduling a visit this fall.
“Right now, they’re definitely one of my top schools,” he said.
Buffen, a senior, said he also has offers from Middle Tennessee State, Georgia State, South Florida and Arkansas State.
Name that rivalry — Wichita State and Tulsa will compete in a rivalry series in 13 common sports. The schools are members of the same conference for the first time since 1996.
Fans can vote on three choices to name the series — Battle for the Plains, Tornado Alley Tussle and Havoc in the Heartland — at surveymonkey.com/r/RivalryName.
The poll ends Sunday.
Schools earn points for wins in volleyball, basketball and softball. In cross country, track and field and golf, points go to the higher finisher in American Athletic Conference championships. Tennis points could be decided by either head-to-head match or AAC tournament finish.
There are 66 possible points with the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate used as a tiebreaker.
Each sport is worth six points. Points can be split in basketball and volleyball for each meeting and in track for the indoor and outdoor meets. In softball, each game of the three-game series is worth two points.
No. 90 — Former WSU track and field coach Herm Wilson celebrates his 90th birthday on Sept. 2.
Organizers want to get the word out to Wilson’s former athletes to attend the day’s events.
WSU’s JK Gold Classic begins at 8:30 a.m. in Augusta. A picnic lunch at Chisholm Creek Park from 1-3 p.m. follows.
A banquet takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Marcus Welcome Center. Cost is $20 per person.
For information, call Steve Shaad at 316-841-8427.