Wichita State Shockers

WSU notes: Kadeem Coleby hopes to fill Shockers’ vacancy in the middle

Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet throws an accurate lob pass, but the nice thing about playing with Kadeem Coleby is that perfection isn’t required.

“He’s a freak athlete, and makes me look good when my pass might not be a good pass,” VanVleet said. “He’ll make it look good.”

Coleby is WSU’s heir apparent at center, taking over for Carl Hall after a redshirt season spent watching and practicing with the Shockers. Coleby (6-foot-9, 251 pounds) transferred from Louisiana-Lafayette and will play his final season of eligibility in 2013-14. Early next month, he heads to Atlanta for training camp with Athletes in Action. The team will tour Lithuania in mid-August, playing professional teams from the region.

“You get international experience and, hopefully, I can bring something back for my teammates that I pick up on,” he said.

Coleby averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in his one season at Louisiana-Lafayette, starting 30 games. His teammates are convinced he will provide a roadblock in the lane for shooters. His chemistry with VanVleet on lobs is well-developed.

“You just throw it up there and he’s right there dunking it,” WSU forward Cleanthony Early said. “He can protect the basket and he can go up and get it on the offensive end.”

Coleby is working this summer on diversifying his offensive game. Assistant coach Chris Jans is instructing him on hook shots, footwork and mid-range jump shots. By November, Coleby wants to be more than a player who is limited to scoring close to the basket.

“I’m not fully a jump shooter yet, mid-range, but I’m working on it,” he said.

Welcome back — WSU women’s basketball coach Jody Adams narrowed her list of assistant coach candidates to three. Then she found out Kirk Crawford wanted his job back.

Hold the interview questions.

Adams rehired Crawford last week after a three-week stay at Texas Tech. Crawford returned to WSU, citing family reasons, after resigning on July 12 at Texas Tech.

“I was happy to receive the call,” Adams said. “You love keeping your staff intact if you can. I have great assistants and it’s going to be difficult when I’m competing against bigger salary ranges.”

Crawford will enter his second season at WSU. He came to WSU after one season at Drake and a long career with college and professional experience.

“It’s a great fit,” Adams said. “I really enjoy working with Kirk. He loves the game. He loves the kids.”

A stable roster of assistant coaches will help Adams with a new-look roster. The Shockers shared their first Missouri Valley Conference title and played in their first NCAA Tournament last season, led by six seniors.

For 2013-14, forward Michelle Price is the lone senior. Price and returners Michaela Dapprich, Alex Harden, Alie Decker (who redshirted last season) and Kelsey Jacobs are joined by eight newcomers.

“They know what they’re walking in after,” Adams said. “They want to continue the winning ways. Our five (returners) have stepped up and understand the sense of urgency we have with this group.”

On the phone — WSU baseball coaches regularly recruited players from Edmond (Okla.) Deer Creek in recent seasons.

No luck. It seemed like they all went to Arkansas. On Tuesday, Deer Creek shortstop Jordan Boyer gave WSU an oral commitment, in large part because of his relationship with former Arkansas assistant Todd Butler, now coach at WSU.

Butler keeps close watch on Deer Creek players. So does WSU assistant Brent Kemnitz. When one of his players has a good game, Deer Creek coach Ron Moore expects a phone call from Butler, even when he’s miles away coaching his team. A network of baseball friends keeps him current.

“Those two guys are usually the first two guys to call me when I’ve got somebody,” Moore said. “That’s the beauty of putting those two together. (Butler’s) developed a lot of relationships in the Southwest and Midwest area. His connections with the pro guys and the high school guys in this area is going to be a huge benefit.”

Boyer (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) hit .398 with two home runs and nine doubles in 29 games for Deer Creek. WSU coaches cannot comment until he signs a letter of intent in November.

Summer travels — Former Shocker basketball player Ehimen Orukpe is waiting on his first professional job, likely with a team in Spain or Italy this fall.

He prepared with a busy summer. He tried out with the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors. In California, he helped the Nigerian national team prepare for a tournament and played pickup with NBA players such as James Harden and Andre Drummond.

“I gained more from just watching them work out more so than playing pickup,” Orukpe said. “They work out every day, even though they’re at that level. Drills, ball-handling, working with trainers.”