If you’ve been following the blog – and really, why wouldn’t you be? – then you know we’ve been picking top 10 Shockers from particular coaching eras. It’s been a fun endeavor; it’s always fun to harken back to yesteryear.
Today, we’re picking the 10 best players from 1986-87 through 1991-92, otherwise known as the Eddie Fogler and Mike Cohen eras.
The three Fogler years were good ones, resulting in two trips to the NCAA Tournament and an NIT bid in Fogler’s last season before he left for Vanderbilt.
The three Cohen years, let’s just say, didn’t go so well. The Shockers were 10-19, 14-17 and 8-20 during Cohen’s three seasons. He left for private business and the Shockers had a heck of a time regaining relevance over the next decade.
Here’s the list, a strong one at the top. But we’ll start at the bottom.
10. Aaron Davis, C, 1987-90 – Davis was a big man and he had a big season in 1989-90, averaging 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He was a valuable reserve on the 1988-89 team that lost to Michigan State in the first round of the NIT in Lansing, Mich.
9. Claudius Johnson, F-C, 1989-93 – Johnson had the misfortune of playing on four poor teams at Wichita State, but he was a mainstay. He averaged 9.7, 8.2 and 7.4 ppg during his final three seasons and was a tough rebounder and defender. I always had a soft spot for Johnson, who at 6-foot-6 was undersized to do what the Shockers were asking of him. He deserved better.
8. Dwayne Praylow, F-G, 1985-89 – Praylow was one half of the twin Praylow brothers from Columbia, S.C., and was a solid scorer and defender during two seasons as a starter under Fogler, averaging 7.0 and 9.5 points during his junior and senior seasons. He averaged 4.8 rebounds as a senior and shot 57 percent from the floor.
7. Robert George, G, 1990-92 – A junior-college transfer, George was pressed into a bigger role as a junior after John Cooper went down with a leg injury after eight games. He responded by averaging 12 points and nearly five assists per game. George was a tremendous athlete whose bad judgment sometimes got in his way as his 161 career turnovers in just two seasons indicate.
6. Lew Hill, G, 1985-88 – Hill had to endure some injuries, but he had two outstanding seasons for the Shockers. As a senior in 1987-88, he averaged 13.3 points and 4.1 and shot 56.2 percent from the field while also leading WSU in steals.
5. Dwight Praylow, G-F, 1985-89 – Praylow was a key backup guard as a freshman on Gene Smithson’s last Wichita State team in 1985-86, then a standout as a starter on Fogler’s three WSU teams. He finished his career just 26 points short of 1,000 and averaged 11.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior in 1988-89. He was also a versatile defender, able to go against guards and forwards. Praylow’s 44.8 percent three-point shooting is the second best in Wichita State history.
4. Paul Guffrovich, G, 1987-91 – The 6-3 Guffrovich played in 120 games during his Shocker career and scored 1,247 points and averaged 12.2 points. He’s one of the finest three-point shooters in Shocker history at 43.4 percent and ranks high on WSU’s all-time steals and assists leader boards. Guffrovich averaged 15.8 ppg as a senior in 1990-91.
3. Steve Grayer, F, 1985-89 – The 6-8 Grayer, from Macon, Ga., averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds during his career while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. He averaged 14 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior, when he was named the Shockers’ MVP and a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference performer.
2. Sasha Radunovich, C, 1985-89 – The colorful Radunovich, from Titograd, Yugoslavia, was a fantastic all-around player and one of the best-passing Shocker big men ever. He averaged 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds during his career, and also had 211 assists. Radunovich had his best season as a junior in 1987-88, averaging 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. He was also a 41.8 percent career three-point shooter.
1. John Cooper, F, 1987-91 – Cooper suffered a career-ending leg injury after only eight games of his senior season in 1990-91 after getting off to a fantastic start and averaging 20.8 points per game. Still, the product of Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst scored 1,153 points during his career. Cooper averaged 17 points and 7.2 rebounds as a junior in 1989-90 and was solid in every facet of the game.