As expected, Shocker Madness belonged to C.J. Keyser.
Nothing can capture the attention of a crowd like a thunderous dunker and Keyser delivered on his promise to put on a show Wednesday night at Koch Arena, as the Wichita State sophomore won the dunk contest without a challenge.
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Not that anyone could do much to push Keyser after he jumped 17 feet from the basket, cocked the ball all the way back and flushed it through the basket with authority. And that was just his opener.
“I’ve been doing this for a couple years now,” Keyser said. “It wasn’t that hard to me.”
Keyser followed it up in the finals by running along the baseline, leaping from one side of the basket, floating underneath while tucking the ball between his legs, and jamming it on the other side. The crowd of 5,000 at Koch Arena roared their approval as a new dunk champion was crowned.
Keyser’s only complaint? Receiving a nine from judge Zach Bush, a former player and Keyser’s teammate last season, preventing him from a perfect 50 score.
“Zach Bush, he’s a hater,” Keyser said laughing. “It’s cool, though.
“I feel like I should have won it last year, but I missed my last dunk. It’s good to finally get that win.”
While Keyser provided the entertaining, but perhaps the biggest — and probably the only — takeaway from Wednesday was the improved three-point shooting from senior Darral Willis.
In his first season at Wichita State last year, Willis took exactly one three-pointer and missed it. But Willis has been hard at work to improve his stroke and it was on display on Wednesday, as Willis drained 11 of 22 shots he attempted in the three-point contest.
His score wasn’t enough to advance to the finals, but to knock down 50 percent of his three-point shots is something that can help the Shockers this season. Willis followed it up with a three-pointer and a free-throw line jumper in the scrimmage.
Conner Frankamp didn’t receive much of a challenge in winning the three-point contest for the third year in a row, while Tamara Lee won the women’s three-point contest.
The women scrimmaged for 10 minutes with the white team, which included starters Diamond Lockhart (8 points), Rangie Bessard (7 points) and Angiee Tompkins (2 points, 5 rebounds), defeating the black team 21-5.
Without three starters — Markis McDuffie (foot), Landry Shamet (foot), and Shaquille Morris (illness) — Wichita State evenly dispersed the remaining players on the black and yellow teams for a 16-minute scrimmage. The black team, with Rashard Kelly, Samajae Haynes-Jones and Frankamp, defeated the white team, with Zach Brown, Austin Reaves Darral Willis, 24-17. Frankamp and Willis led the game with six points each.
Fans took a quick liking to Haynes-Jones, a Wichita native who transferred from Hutchinsion Community College after winning a national championship. Haynes-Jones impressed with a quick first step, as he finished with five points and two steals.
“It was amazing,” Haynes-Jones said. “Looking at all of the fans when I first walked out there I was just very happy to be here in this position. It was just an amazing night.”
Haynes-Jones and freshman Asbjorn Midtgaard (4 points, 2 rebounds) drew praise from Marshall afterwards.
“(Haynes-Jones) can change speeds, he has that little burst,” Marshall said. “I thought him and Conner were dominant in the backcourt against Austin (Reaves) and C.J.
“I thought (Midtgaard) was dominant on the glass on his end, was very patient, and stuck a couple of shots in the basket around the hole. I was very pleased with him.”
Seeing Morris with the team was a relief for some fans after the senior missed the team’s picture day on Tuesday, causing some speculation about his absence. Although Morris didn’t play in the scrimmage, he received a loud ovation from the fans when he was introduced at the start of the evening.
“For his size, he’s the most sickly individual I’ve ever known in my life,” Marshall said. “He’s sick a lot.”
Wichita State also play host to a recruit in Chance Moore, a 6-foot-8 combination guard from Louisville who is ranked as a three-star prospect by 24/7 Sports.