Wichita State’s basketball team filled its most pressing need with an oral commitment from point guard Joe Ragland, an NJCAA All-American from North Platte (Neb.) Community College.
The Shockers lost one player from this season’s team, All-Missouri Valley Conference guard Clevin Hannah. Ragland, who can sign beginning April 14, fills that spot and will compete with returner Demetric Williams, a sophomore-to-be.
“I like the fact they’ve got everybody returning,” Ragland said. “They’re not that far off from the NCAA Tournament. I want to be a part of that.”
Wichita State coaches finished off a fast pursuit of Ragland during his visit last weekend. They watched him play in the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson earlier this month and approached him after a game. His visit convinced him he like the way the Shockers played.
“He immediately liked it,” said Kimberly Ragland, his mother. “He was calling me during his visit, saying ‘Mom, this is it.’æ”
Ragland, 6 feet, 180 pounds, helped North Platte to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson and earned the Bud Obee Outstanding Small Player Award for his play in the tournament.
For the season, he averaged 18.4 points and made 56 percent of his shots, 45.8 percent of his three-pointers and 75.4 percent of his free throws.
“I’m a scorer, passer — I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “That’s my style.”
He said he also considered schools such as Utah, George Mason, Montana, Montana State, Lamar and Creighton, many of whom wanted to schedule a visit.
Ragland holds North Platte’s career scoring record with 1,286 points. In two seasons, he averaged 19.5 points and 3.1 assists and made 45.3 percent of his threes.
He was named to the 2010 All-Region IX team and the Region IX all-tournament team.
Ragland is from West Springfield, Mass. He earned the Lahovich Award as the region’s top player as a senior at West Springfield High.
Juco All-Americans — Butler Community College sophomore guard Caleb Walker was chosen first-team NJCAA All-American.
Walker, a sophomore from Hutchinson who has committed to Nebraska, led the Grizzlies to the national tournament. He averaged 16.4 points.
Jae Crowder of national champion Howard was also a member of the 10-player first team. Three Rivers guard Marquise Carter was a second-team pick.
Hutchinson sophomore Heather Robben was a third-team women’s pick. Robben, who played at Maize, averaged 16.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists.