In May, college basketball coaches in Kansas knew all about St. John senior Dean Wade. By late July, coaches all over the nation either knew more or wanted to know more.
Wade, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward, played for Mid Kansas this summer and increased his recruiting profile. Mid Kansas won the NBA Division’s green bracket at the Great American Shootout in Dallas and Wade scored 30 points in a 68-46 win over Dallas Showtyme Elite in the title game. Later in July, Mid-Kansas advanced to the final eight of the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic before it lost to the Oakland Soldiers, a high-profile AAU team.
“Wichita State and Kansas State have been recruiting him all along,” St. John coach Clint Kinnamon said. “After the Dallas tournament, his recruitment just blew up. It continued after Las Vegas.”
Wade will visit Kansas State on Aug. 29 and said he is also considering WSU, Creighton, Iowa and Vanderbilt, in no particular order. He hasn’t scheduled a visit to WSU yet, although he did watch the Shockers play Northern Iowa last season.
“I like how they (the Shockers) play together as a team,” he said. “And I really like their coaching staff.”
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi, in late July, wrote that Wade narrowly missed inclusion on the national top 150 list. His play in July likely will elevate his ranking.
“Since Rivals.com last saw Wade at the Jayhawk Invitational in late April, he has been hard at work in the weight room,” Bossi wrote. “Thanks to added strength, good skill, mobility and a high revving motor, his game has gone to a new level.”
Wade and his teammates from small high schools in Kansas enjoyed making a splash.
“No one expects us to do anything,” he said. “Then we came out and played really good. In the middle of the tournament in Dallas, we started playing really good together. We carried that over to Vegas.”
Wade averaged 21.9 points, 8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks and made The Wichita Eagle’s All-State team. He led St. John, a town of about 1,200 around 95 miles west of Wichita, to a 26-0 record and the Class 2A title. He played around 19 minutes a game because of St. John’s propensity to blow out its opponents. Kinnamon said Wade made around 47 percent of his three-point shots.
“Versatile, that would be the best way to describe him,” Kinnamon said. “He’s got great perimeter skills. He's got a good frame. He's going to put a lot of good weight on once he hits his peak maturity-wise.”
In the backcourt — With Tekele Cotton a senior and Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet juniors, WSU coaches are evaluating many guards and wing players from the class of 2015.
Jonesboro (Ark.) point guard Marquise Pointer (6-1, 200) said he plans to visit WSU on Sept. 12.
“I am highly interested,” he said.
He is also considering Lehigh, where Jonesboro teammate Kahron Ross is a freshman, Winthrop and Southern Mississippi. He said he may take an unofficial visit to Mississippi.
Pointer played shooting guard early in his high school career. When he started to think about college, his height dictated a move to the point guard. He helped Jonesboro win the Class 6A title last season.
“I got better at everything,” Pointer said. “My ball-handling. My shot selection is a lot better. I’m a pass-first point guard.”
Houston shooting guard Kerwin Roach (6-4, 165) said he plans to visit WSU this fall.
He has yet to narrow his list and is considering schools such as Kansas State, Texas, SMU, Marquette and Oklahoma State. ESPN.com ranks him No. 22 among Texas seniors. He scored 15 points to help Galena Park North Shore defeat Converse Judson in the Class 5A title game in March.
“(WSU) is a winning school, a winning program and I really like that attitude,” Roach said. “Coach (Gregg) Marshall talked to me that he wants to continue his vision of winning the Final Four.”
St. Anthony (N.J.) wing Markis McDuffie (6-8, 175) is considering WSU as part of a large list of schools and said wants to decide on his list of visits soon. According to NJ.com, he has offers from Maryland, SMU, Rutgers, Creighton, VCU and others.
“I just started to hear about (WSU) two years ago when they made the Final Four,” he said. “I don’t know a whole lot about them, but they’ve been one of the top teams in the country the last two years.”
Arm addition — WSU’s softball team strengthened its pitching staff over the summer with the arrival of junior Ashlynne Neil from the College of San Mateo (Calif.).
Neil, from Winters, Calif., went 25-3 with a 2.45 ERA and 101 strikeouts and 46 walks in 154 innings as a sophomore.
“I think she’ll be a huge addition,” coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “She keeps the ball down. She’s not going to blow it by anybody, but she’s got the potential to get a lot better.”
The Shockers will be short-handed in fall practices due to injuries.
Utility player Erin Carney, who missed last season with a knee injury, will play catch and throw, but won’t be able to practice at full-speed until Nov. 1. Carney was an All-Missouri Valley Conference pick in 2013.
Utility player Brianne Bond, left fielder Brittany Fortner and pitcher Jenni Brooks will also miss the fall with unspecified injuries, Bredbenner said. She expects all four to be ready for the season. Fortner hit .358 with eight home runs last season and earned All-MVC and second-team All-Midwest Region honors.
“Brooks and (Bond) will be back much earlier than Brittany Fortner,” she said. “And it’s not all a bad thing. It gives a lot of our other kids an opportunity for playing time. That’s kind of our focus in the fall. We’ve got eight games and let’s see what everybody can do.”
WSU opens its fall schedule on Sept. 13 against Johnson County Community College and Seminole (Okla.) State at Wilkins Stadium. Its alumni game is at 1 p.m. Sept. 20.
Hello to Herm — Former WSU track and field coach Herm Wilson is holding an open house to visit with friends and former athletes from 1-5 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Larksfield Place Assisted Living, 2727 N. Rock Road.
Wilson, 88, works as a consultant for Beynon Sports Surfaces. He coached at WSU from 1967-83 and was inducted into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. His men’s cross country teams won five straight MVC titles from 1971-75.
WSU’s cross country team plays host to the JK Gold Classic, its home meet, on Sept. 16 at the RAFT Golf Course in Augusta.
Changing sports — WSU has hired former KWCH sports anchor Bryan Holmgren to work with men’s basketball in the media relations department.
He spent the past three seasons as director of athletic communications at Northwestern Oklahoma State, an NCAA Division II school in Alva. He worked with football, men’s basketball, baseball and cross country and oversaw the athletic website.
Assistant athletic director Larry Rankin, who worked with men’s basketball since 1994, will move to women’s basketball.
Worth noting — WSU’s Marshallville student group will donate its banner from last season to the Wichita Children’s Home at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday outside Koch Arena. The banner marked the gathering spot for the students waiting in line for basketball games. Coach Gregg Marshall will autograph the banner and help Marshallville president Max Runyon present the banner. … Lauren Hinrichs, a junior middle/outside hitter at Doniphan-Trumbull High in Doniphan, Neb., gave WSU’s volleyball team a non-binding commitment recently, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star and Grand Island Independent. Hinrichs (6-1) recorded 276 kills as a sophomore, according to the Journal-Star. Lincoln Southwest outside hitter Allie Davis, also a junior, also committed to WSU this summer. They cannot sign with WSU until November 2015 and Shocker coaches cannot comment on them until they receive a signed letter of intent.